£12m River Irwell flood basin will be great ‘ecological’ asset as well as protect homes

A proposed £12million flood basin in Salford would boost the area’s natural amenities as well as providing essential defences, according to members of the community.

The plans, put forward by the Environment Agency with the support of Salford City Council, would see a basin created on playing fields close the Castle Irwell Student Village, near Broughton.

As well as slashing the chances of a major flood of the River Irwell from one in 75 years to one in 100, it would create a ‘sustainable habitat area’, according to the plans.

Roger Baldry, Project Manager at The Irwell Valley Sustainable Communities Project told MM: “It opens up a site that very, very few people know about and that very few people use. It creates a great opportunity.”

The basin would bolster flood defences already in operation and protect nearly 1,500 homes in the area.

Mr Baldry also believes the plans would be benefit local school children, who would be able to use the resulting natural amenity for educational purposes.

“There’s a great learning opportunity here for pupils in the schools round about, around ecology and things like that,” he said.

“They get to know about the area, they get to have a say in what sort of plants are put in – and there are opportunities after that to continue to involve them.”

The land around the River Irwell, close to the site, is also a top spot for ramblers. 

Dr Edgar Ernstbrunner, Footpath Co-ordinator for the Ramblers’ Association of Greater Manchester and High Peak, said it is important that the natural environment in the area is not disturbed by the plans.

“The primary issue would be that public rights of way are safeguarded and retained. We don’t mind diversion but we would be unhappy with any of them being lost as a result,” he said.

“As far as I can see so far, that’s not an issue here. 

“The Sculpture Trail is a fine example of where we are quite interested in the river, which is in itself is course a feature. Retaining the environment of the Irwell in a sensitive fashion is important.”

If the plans are approved, £1.5million of the budget would be covered by Salford City Council and the government would foot the rest of the bill.

Image courtesy of Ethol Red, with thanks.

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