WORK will start next week on a pilot project to test how natural solutions such as creating wetlands can help reduce the risk of flooding near a hill town.

Diggers are poised to move onto Marlfield Farm on the banks of the River Aire to start on the scheme to protect Earby from future water influxes.

The works by the Environment Agency will also include hedge planting, fencing off corners of fields from grazing so that more vegetation can grow and installing leaky barriers to slow the flow of rainwater while providing a better habitat for wildlife.

The scheme, to be delivered by Christmas, follows the completion of a £1million flood prevention project to repair and partially replace the Victoria Clough culvert in Earby.

It has been welcomed by Pendle MP Andrew Stephenson and Cllr David Whipp who represents the town on the borough and county councils.

The EA hoped it will be the first of many of these natural flood management schemes in Earby.

Chris Milburn, project executive at the agency said: “Restoring our natural environment on a major scale like this is an important part of the toolkit to help reach net zero emissions in the future. Natural flood management offers huge potential for climate mitigation, for example, creating wetlands, restoring our uplands and planting trees can help to capture tonnes of carbon from the atmosphere.

“We are very grateful to the landowners, the Procter’s, for working with us. Earby has a history of flooding and these natural techniques will not prevent this from ever happening again, but we are appealing for more landowners to come forward and work with us to install more of these measures which will have a cumulative benefit and should help the landscape to hold more water during flood events. ”

Mr Daniel Procter, who together with his wife Heather and parents Howard and Lynda own Marlfield Farm, said: “We are pleased to support the trial of natural flood management techniques on our farm. We’ve witnessed first-hand how quickly the river reacts to flash flooding and hope that these measures will go some way to help reduce the flood risk in the village. We are also excited about the added environmental benefits of these measures.”

Cllr Whipp: said: “At Pendle Council we’ve been working very hard with landowners to encourage natural flood management measures as part of a package to reduce flood risk from Earby Beck.”

Mr Stephenson said: “This is good news especially following the completion of the Victoria Clough scheme. But there is still more to be done to protect Earby from flooding.”