Natural Course hosts international visit to Greater Manchester

Natural Course and the Estonian LIFE Project Urban Storm have a common interest in sustainable drainage systems (SuDS) in urban settings and began sharing case studies with each other back in 2019.  After a few years of networking remotely, it was our pleasure to welcome partners from Urban Storm to Manchester as part of a study and knowledge exchange visit.  They included:

  • Deputy Mayor, Head of Civil Engineering Department, Senior Specialist in Civil Engineering, Chief Specialist in Civil Engineering, Senior Landscaping Specialist and Project Manager from the Viimsi Municipality.
  • Expert on Nature Protection and Member of Board, Expert on Environment, Water Management, Energy and Climate Change from the Baltic Environmental Forum.
  • Project Manager and Leading Specialist from Tallinn City Environment and Civil Engineering Department.
  • Staff from the Estonian University of Life Sciences.

Day 1 started with a morning of introductions taking place in the Boardroom of the Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) offices, with presentations giving an overview of:

  • Greater Manchester and the remit of GMCA
  • Flood Risk Management and the hydrology of the Northwest (Environment Agency)
  • Strategic approaches to SuDS (United Utilities)
  • Challenges faced in Estonia and the outcomes from the Urban Storm project (Urban Storm).

The afternoon included a guided tour of Dales Brow (opens in new tab) – which was recently highly commended at the Susdrain Awards (Regeneration and Retrofit category) – by City of Trees.  The group saw how various nature-based solutions have provided multiple benefits and addressed the issues of surface water flooding and road pollution.  This was followed by a walking tour by Salford City Council looking at the SuDS installed on Bloom Street / William Street, Oldfield Road and East Ordsall Lane.

Natural Course and Urban Storm standing on a wooden bridge in Dales Brow, with greenery around them

Natural Course and Urban Storm visit Dales BrowDay two started with a visit to Smithills, with staff from the Woodlands Trust and Environment Agency showing us the leaky dams installed in the uplands that slow the flow and soak up water.  As well as describing construction methodologies, there were discussions around the monitoring work and the results had so far.

The second part of the day was hosted by Manchester City Council in West Gorton, where a new sustainable drainage park for the local community has been built.  The park uses an interconnected series of swales, rain gardens and bio-attenuation features to combat the effects of climate change and reduce storm water flooding in Manchester which was of great interest to the group.

Natural Course and Urban Storm at Smithills.  They are standing on a hill, looking into a valley at NFM interventions.

Natural Course and Urban Storm visit Smithills

A crossroads made of permeable paving with drainage, with squares of greenery and a tree.

West Gorton Community Park

The final morning involved a visit to Salford Flood Basin and Kersal Wetlands, created as part of a £10 million flood protection scheme.  We were shown around by Salford City Council, Environment Agency and Councillor Hamilton and learned how the site of the old Manchester Racecourse has been transformed into a new space for birds, wildlife, nature and people to enjoy, as well as protecting around 2000 homes and businesses from flooding.

Sarah Bazley, Natural Course Communications and Engagement Specialist said…

“It was a fantastic experience to showcase some of the great work happening in Greater Manchester with the Urban Storm project.

Being able to share our knowledge, experience and learnings from how we are addressing the challenges facing the water environment in the Northwest with other European projects is an important part of being a LIFE Integrated Project”. 

More information about the Urban Storm project can be found – Urban Storm (opens in new tab)