Climate Vision

Lostwithiel Flood Prevention Project 2013/2014 and

Lostwithiel, Par, St.Blazey Flood Prevention Project 2014/2015

Having benefitted from the Pilot in 2011/2012, which enabled Offenders on Community Payback to collect, remove and compost 3 tonnes of leaf litter: Climate Vision sought ways to attract funding to repeat the project and increase the coverage to three problem areas.

Cornwall Community Flood Forum (CCFF) and Cornwall Council (CC) have successfully attracted £238K of DEFRA funds to Cornwall to test projects that enhance community resilience to actual or possible flooding.

Climate Vision’s Leaf Litter Project is part of one of 13 high profile Flood Resilience Community Pathfinder projects running throughout England.

The Project, subject to considerable external evaluation, required Climate Vision to work closely with DEFRA. The project yielded local benefits and is ready, through the use of our “Project Toolkit”,

The Project not only had benefits locally, but in the spirit of a National Pilot Project will prove easy to model and replicate throughout the country.

The Results…

Autumn 2013, Climate Vision identified a single mile of highway in the catchment in a 35km2 area susceptible to flash flooding during the autumn and winter months. The three sites selected for the project were:

1. Par Lane, Par
2. Cornhill, St. Blazey
3. Castle Hill, Lostwithiel

Having studied the area, Climate Vision produced a routine drain-clearing schedule along with an emergency  response plan to minimise the impact of extreme weather events likely to lead to flooding.

Media coverage with BBC Radio Cornwall who launched the project (better than cleaning toilets at 53 minutes!)

Followed up on the Laurence Reed Show further into the project

Also making BBC  Internet news website and the Project enjoyed further coverage in the local newspapers and coverage onITV West Country News.

Mulch produced from composting the leaf litter

Mulch produced from composting the leaf litter

Offenders underwent Composting Training and met members of the media. They assisted in weighing leaf litter/met local residents/flood experts and engaged in 1:1 climate change and flood prevention discussions.

A Met Office Amber Alert/Warning was issued for 22/12/13, but this coincided with the traditional Probation Service Holiday break. However, two teams were still deployed especially to attend the three sites on that day, removing 94 bags of leaves from the selected sites. This helped prevent rainfall from flowing, as surface water, down the sloping roads notorious for contributing to flooding.

The final operations took place mid-January 2014. 9.15 tonnes of leaves have been collected to be used as mulch a year after the project.

A year later the perfect compost was used by Richard Budge, Head of Parks and Gardens for the City of Truro, who seeded part of Trafalgar roundabout in red poppies in the compost over which two quarter size Spitfires are flying, to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Britain.

Offender Survey…

Throughout the project lifetime, Climate Vision and the participants (offenders on the Community payback scheme) discussed the following issues at length: climate change, flooding, the Highways Training, Lostwithiel and Par & St. Blazey community issues. Recording how the project affected the participants understanding and perception of these issues was considered a key outcome.

A summary of the key points of the project are as follows:

  • Before the project, 25% of the workers hadn’t known about the ‘Big’ Lostwithiel Flood (2010).
  • They all thought Cornwall Council were mainly responsible for managing flood risk. Half of them thought people weren’t better prepared because they thought it was someone else’s responsibility.
  • They all thought it was a worthwhile job to be doing for their Community Service, with 8% thinking it was more worthwhile than expected.
  • 83% said they would be interested in helping your community be more resilient. When asked if they have felt like that before this work, 75% said no.

The full results have been analysed and recently published in the report Leaf Litter Clearance Project 2014

Lostwithiel, Par, St.Blazey Flood Prevention Project 2014/2015

To find out about and to see if you can benefit from this scheme and start a leaf litter project to reduce flood risk read the Leaf Litter Project Report Update February 2015 on pages 30-34.

Why the interest?

Truro based Exeter University graduate (Falmouth Campus), Luci Isaacson who obtained a BSc in Earth Systems went on to complete a MSc in Climate Change & Risk Management, and in doing so could see a simple solution to part of the surface water flooding problem.

Historical flooding events in Cornwall were explored using data from a digital archive of extreme rainfall from 1866-1968.

Heavy rainfall events are better understood using local catchment areas to consider what happens when there is heavy rainfall in the surrounding area.  Climate Visionasked local residents where they thoughtdrains were being covered in leaf litter and stop water from going down the drain.

The Probation Service were approached due to a long term interest to inspire offenders by empowering them with the tools and know-how to help alleviate environmental problems, that can be expensive to remedy. In meeting and talking with the victims of flooding events, undertaking the alleviation work, learning new skills, obtaining certification, the Community Payback team can help prevent one part of the many problems that lead to the terrible ordeals people experience due to flooding. By learning about how these problems occur, through the lens of a changing climate, it is hoped the inspiration will be heightened by the knowledge that the skills learnt during their sentence, are unique and will be incredibly useful now and in the future, within their own communities. During the original pilot, six Met office ‘Yellow’ (be aware) alerts were issued, for two events, one of which became an ‘Amber’ (be prepared) alert. While it is essential to note that Lostwithiel, during these times, unlike neighbouring areas, did not flood, there are many causes and contributions to flooding events. The following week the Lostwithiel community began to visit the offenders while at work and thanked them, telling them about their flooding experiences. This was unexpected and made a significant difference to those working.

The Pitt Report identified a need to reduce the risks of floods, have a better understanding of each local authority’s drainage and watercourse system (ES.36) and ensured clear responsibility for the systems is held by the local authorities.

After studying Climate Science for five years, Climate Vision would like to help people find enterprising solutions for environmental problems, to address climate change without fear, loathing and huge cost implications.