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Upper Don Source to Sea – delivering nature-based solutions within and above Sheffield

Event organised by ICE

13 July 2022

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After 2 significant floods in 12 years the November 2019 floods were a catalyst to step up South Yorkshire’s response and preparedness to flood risk catchment wide.

Our Connected by Water plan brings together an alliance of the South Yorkshire Local Authorities, the Environment Agency, Yorkshire Water and the South Yorkshire Mayoral Combined Authority not only to deliver flood risk management schemes, but to plan catchment-wide measures for the future and work with communities and partners within and beyond our urban areas.

In Sheffield we are well underway with investment to better protect our city, reconnect with our rivers and integrate flood defences into place making. In the face of climate change however we cannot stand still. Increasing river flows and intensity of storms will reduce the standard of protection of our flood schemes over time and place increased pressures on our local drainage infrastructure.

Traditional engineered responses such as building higher walls in the city centre or burying water in underground structures aren’t the answer, increasingly Nature Based Solutions are showing wide ranging benefits in all contexts. Alongside flood risk reduction these interventions can deliver nature recovery, water quality improvements, carbon reduction and healthier environments for communities.

As the largest city in the UK with a National Park within our boundary Sheffield is uniquely positioned to demonstrate how a multi partner range of interventions across the catchment can develop a holistic and sustainable future for flood risk management. Projects described include new development and retrofit SuDS, flood storage and natural flood management.


James Mead

James Mead

Sheffield City Council

flood & water manager

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James Mead

As Sheffield City Council, as a Lead Local Flood Authority, reimagines itself as a City of Rivers in for the 21st century better protecting people and property and enabling investment he is client for Sheffield’s ongoing £90m Flood Protection Programme and lead for the Connected by Water Partnership.

Having worked in Flood Risk Management for nearly 20 years he was previously the Environment Agency’s lead advisor on major partnership flood risk projects, including the development and delivery of Sheffield’s £21m Defra Priority Growth Scheme in the Lower Don Valley with its unique Business Improvement District funding and led on the first phases of Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council’s “Rotherham Renaissance” Flood Scheme.

He was the client Project Manager for the £30m, award winning Redcar Coastal Management and Seafront Regeneration Scheme delivering in Partnership with Redcar & Cleveland Borough Council. He has been a key contributor to UK guidance on partnership funding, the relationships between flood risk planning and regeneration and the commercial and regeneration economic benefits of flood risk.

His project work has been used as case studies in Defra guidance for partnership funding and in the development of the joint Defra/EA research & development project “Flood & coastal erosion risk management and the local economy” published by Frontier Economics.

Roger Nowell

Roger Nowell

Sheffield City Council

natural flood and water management coordinator

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Roger Nowell

He has worked in flood and water management for over 14 years. For 18 years before this he used his landscape architecture and ecology qualifications in land development and management for social, recreation and biodiversity benefits. Within this field he started to work with developers to manage surface water - seeing the opportunity to expand the services landscapes at all scales could provide.

His water experience includes river defence work, for example installing the first River Don sections as part of a new park within Sheffield. The knowledge he gained whilst representing Sheffield on an EU climate adaptation flood project (MARE) combined with a clearer understanding of how climate will impact Sheffield defences has led him to now work on the wider river catchment working with a range of partners to begin the long process of slowing the flow.

His strong passion is about multi beneficial landscapes which manage water, this has included agreeing the design and adoption arrangements for numerous open space SuDS, building regional SuDS for multiple housing developments, pushing for and agreeing Highways SuDS adoption including permeable pavement, swales and bioretention and more recently being part of the team developing the ‘Grey to Green’ SuDS retrofit projects within Sheffield centre.

For more information please contact:

Joanne Topping