Harrow and Barnet residents invited to shape flood resilience projects

Residents living in the London areas of Barnet and Harrow are being invited to help shape a six-year programme of projects to reduce the risk of flooding in the catchment of the Silk Stream (a 2.5-mile tributary of the River Brent) by environmental charity Thames21.

Led by Barnet Council in collaboration with Harrow Council, and assisted by partners including Thames Water, Environment Agency, Metis, Greater London Authority, Canal and River Trust, Brent Catchment Partnership, and many more, the Silk Stream Flood Resilience Innovation (SSFRI) project will use nature-based and sustainable drainage interventions with the aim of improving flood resilience, enhancing wellbeing and enriching the natural environment within the Silk Stream catchment.

The project partners have published an easy-to-use online survey for residents and local businesses to fill out, which closes on 17 November.

Residents will be able to highlight areas of flooding affecting their properties and have their say on ideas such as building new wetlands, restoring stretches of river and creating new areas of natural drainage on the Silk Stream catchment to reduce the risk of flooding.

The SSFRI project is part of a £6 million, Defra-funded Flood and Coastal Resilience Innovation Program, managed by the Environment Agency.

The Silk Stream was selected for this initiative because it is highly urbanised catchment and it is vulnerable to flooding from surface water. Pollution is another problem that affects the Silk Stream, coming from a variety of sources including plumbing misconnections and connectivity between the surface water and foul sewers. During high rainfall events the sewers reach capacity and these problems are intensified.

Thames21 will work with residents to map out local flood issues and possible solutions, as well as supporting residents and businesses to collaborate with its project partners.

Chris Coode, Deputy Chief Executive at Thames21, said: “This summer has shown how many parts of the world can get easily devastated by flooding, from Germany to New York to the UK. Flooding is a serious concern in the Silk Stream catchment and it’s estimated that more than 1000 properties are at risk. As the catchment has become increasingly urbanised with natural vegetation replaced by hard surfaces, water is less able to soak into the ground and during intense rainfall events water levels can rise rapidly, causing flooding.

“We are excited to have this chance to use our experience to work with the local community in Barnet and Harrow to help them come together to shape flood-resilient projects within the Silk Stream catchment. We urge all residents to take up this great opportunity.”

Councillor Peter Zinkin, the political champion of the project, (also member in Thames RFCC from north-west London and Chair of the North-West London Partnership), said: “Protection of residents from the increasing challenges of flood risk and climate change is a very high priority for the Council, especially in light of the recent extreme rainfall events. . I welcome the opportunity to work with, the London Borough of Harrow, the Environment Agency, Thames Water, Thames 21 and other key stakeholders to manage flood risk in the Silk Stream catchment. I would encourage the residents to participate in the ongoing consultation to ensure that their concerns and issues are fully recognised from the start of the project.”

Councillor Varsha Parmar, Harrow Council’s Environment and Climate Change cabinet member, said: “Over the years residents have seen increasing and serious surface water and sewer flooding issues around this area and along with partners and community groups we are thrilled to have been awarded the funds to carry this project out.

“Not only will this scheme take decisive action to prevent flooding, it will also help to combat climate change by adopting nature-based and sustainable solutions.

“We are very keen to hear from residents via the consultation survey and will take their views into account during the initial stages of this project.”

The official launch of the project will take place in Montrose Fields on 17 November 2021, 10am – 12.30pm. Partners will gather for speeches, refreshments and exhibition materials; it is an opportunity for local press and the community to discover more about the project in person.