A major project has begun to protect local communities from flooding, while improving a much-loved country park.
The £80,000 programme will improve the ability for the Yarrow Valley Country Park to manage flood levels affecting the valley area that the River Yarrow flows through.
It will create extra floodplains to hold water back, slowing it from rushing downstream to villages like Eccleston and Croston too quickly after heavy rain.
The council, which owns and manages the 20-hectare Yarrow Meadows plot, has given the go-ahead to a Yarrow Meadow Masterplan with the aim of improving the water environment along the River Yarrow and reduce flood risks to communities and wildlife.
Councillor Alistair Bradley, leader of Chorley Council, said: “The main aim of the Yarrow Meadows Masterplan is to reduce the risk of flooding for the benefit of our communities, visitors and wildlife.”
The new £80,000 works at Yarrow Meadows will not only improve the experience for visitors, but also protect vulnerable villages from flooding.
Works on the beauty spot include extending the flood plan, helping to protect villages like Eccleston and Croston from flooding.
Chorley Council leader Alistair Bradley said: “Yarrow Valley Country Park is a popular destination for people in the Chorley area and visitors from further afield.
“We have already carried out improvements to the car park and some footpaths within the country park but we are now looking to improve the Yarrow Meadows.”
While £80,000 has been spent on improvements to footpaths, another £80,000 is also going towards improving animal habitats and natural flood management.
The money comes both from grant funding and from contributions from housing developers.
The Yarrow Meadows Masterplan seeks to deliver natural flood management interventions on the site to slow the flow of water to communities at risk.
It will build on the work already invested in the Croston Flood Alleviation Scheme as well as enhance the flood plain of the River Yarrow within Yarrow Valley Country Park.
Coun Alistair Bradley added: “We are aware that flooding in Croston has been an issue for some years so we are working alongside the Croston Flood Alleviation Scheme to continue reducing the risk of floods with improvement to the Yarrow Meadows.
“We hope that this will be a huge benefit for the Chorley borough as it will reduce the risk of floods in the long term.
“We are excited to see the masterplan come to life and we hope that members of the public will continue to enjoy the popular outdoor area.”
On Boxing Day in 2015 villagers in Croston were hit with devastating flooding in which 344 properties were affected.
In July 2017 a £7million Croston Flood Risk Management Scheme was completed which reduces the flood risk for properties from five per cent to less than one per cent in any one year.
It includes an upstream flood storage area on the River Yarrow and 600m earth embankment and is capable of retaining up to 1.3 million m3 of water – equivalent to 520 Olympic size swimming pools.
Officers at Chorley Council recommended the masterplan for approval at an executive cabinet meeting on Thursday, February 15 stating in the Yarrow Meadows Masterplan report: “The project builds on the good work already invested in the Croston Flood Alleviation Scheme and further strengthens flood defenses for the residents of Chorley and beyond.”
As part of the work to mitigate against flooding, especially in Croston and Eccleston, in the future the council and its partners, the Environment Agency and the Douglas Catchment Partnership, will be working to build up river banks, remove or soften hard banks and fell trees and gather woody debris to stem the flow of water in the event of heavy rainfall.
They also hope to preserve and restore habitats for wildlife, work to eradicate non-native plant species growing along the riverbank such as Himalayan Balsam and create and manage more woodland.
Schools, scout groups and residents will be involved with helping deliver small projects within the masterplan where resources allow, such as bird box making, tree planting and wildflower planting.
Some access points to Yarrow Valley Country Park have already been improved, including the Yarrow Valley Country Park car park and some footpaths.
More improvements to access points in the Gillibrand area will be made to ensure members of the public can continue to enjoy their time in a safe environment.
For more information on the Yarrow Meadows Masterplan, visit Chorley.gov.uk and go to Council Meetings, Executive Cabinet report.