Apprentices Make A Splash In Flood Management

News > Apprentices Make A Splash In Flood Management


Date of issue: 2 August 2017

Thanks to National Lottery players, young people from across the region have been learning how to implement small-scale natural flood management techniques in the Yorkshire Dales to help mitigate flood damage across the Aire valley.

It’s part of a rural apprenticeship scheme led by local charity Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust (YDMT) which provides opportunities for young people to stay and work in the area that they grew up in, whilst gaining skills and experience in landscape management, horticulture and conservation.

The apprentices recently came together in Malhamdale to discover the merits of a variety of natural flood management techniques that can reduce peak flood levels by 5-10%, helping to minimise damage downstream.

From willow spiling and buffer strips, to straw bales and brash dams, the techniques use natural materials to help slow the flow and clean the watercourse, diffusing pollutants and preventing silt, clay and other sediment from causing problems downstream.

Under the expert guidance of Don Vine, Conservation Officer, from Yorkshire Wildlife Trust, the apprentices repaired a series of damaged dams across a small stream near Otterburn using straw bales and water-resistant chestnut stakes.

Together with similar natural flood management initiatives taking place on other small becks and streams that feed into the upper River Aire, the apprentices’ efforts near Otterburn will protect the Aire valley catchment from flooding.

Former lifeguard Matthew Lambert, aged 19 from Long Preston, was happy to wade straight in to the task. He said: “Today’s been good – hearing what other apprentices have been up to, and being part of the natural flood management project in the Dales that’s helping reduce flooding as far away as Leeds. I’m an apprentice at Marsden Agricultural and Environmental Contractors, and I’m enjoying getting out and about and learning lots of new skills, like dry stone walling, track repairs, building stone dams and sediment traps. You get a sense of achievement. I’m looking forward to doing lots of training courses, like hand-held and boom spraying, as well as taking my trailer test.”

Matthew is one of nine young people from across the region embarking on a new career in environmental conservation and countryside management through the apprenticeship scheme, gaining valuable work experience with employers including Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority, Conservefor, Cumbria Wildlife Trust, Sedbergh School and Marsden AES.

Seven of the current placements are offered through the Green Futures programme, which is part of Our Bright Future, a forward-thinking social movement of 31 projects funded by the Big Lottery Fund, while two placements are part of Stories in Stone Landscape Partnership scheme funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and the Prince's Countryside Fund. Both programmes are led by YDMT.

YDMT would also like to thank the David Brooke Charity for their donation of £4000 that will help to fund a range of specialist certified training courses for the apprentices, from emergency first aid to chainsaw qualifications.

Jo Boulter, Dales & Fells Trainee Scheme Co-ordinator at YDMT, said: “It’s great to see the apprentices gaining so many new skills and qualifications, as well as practical experiences. This combination of college studies, certified training courses and hands-on work based training with a range of organisations is a tried and tested formula. This time next year, the apprentices should be well placed to follow successful careers in conservation or landscape management, and we’ll be hoping to attract another group of enthusiastic young local people to the scheme.”

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