Work on a major new flood defence scheme has begun in Lancashire.
Restored saltmarsh will be used to absorb wave energy and tackle the effects of climate change and, in turn, will reduce flood risk to over 140 properties and several square kilometres of farmland in the Hesketh Bank area of the Ribble Estuary .
The scheme, one of the biggest of its kind in England, has been made possible due to a partnership between the Environment Agency, Natural England, the RSPB and a £1million grant from WREN’s Biodiversity Action Fund Land Purchase Programme.
Environment Agency Flood Risk Manager, Andy Brown, said: “By allowing the sea to return we will be able to reduce flood risk to local people now and in the future, as the new defences take into account rising sea levels.
“Using natural saltmarsh we can adapt to climate change at the same time as preserving local habitats.
He added: “This is a great opportunity to reduce flood risk to homes, businesses and safeguard farmland in the Hesketh Bank area now and in the future.”
Last winter’s storms caused chaos around Britain’s coastline but sea defences fronted by saltmarsh suffered less damage than those without it.
After the improvements to the embankment have been made, the saltmarsh will be restored by breaching existing outer banks, allowing the tides to cover a site that was isolated from the estuary by private developers 30 years ago.
Tony Baker, Ribble Reserves Manager for the RSPB, said: “By creating robust flood defences that will protect people’s homes and businesses long into the future, we can also provide homes for our precious wildlife.”