“Poor management of the rural landscape along with global heating and building on floodplains are the main factors that led to the floods that have engulfed towns in northern England, according to experts.
Sheffield, Rotherham and Doncaster are among the places flooded, 12 years after they were badly hit when the River Don burst its banks in 2007. Many affected areas, including Meadowhall shopping centre, where customers were stranded overnight, lie within the river’s floodplain – low-lying land next to the river that naturally floods during high flow.
“This is only a problem if you develop floodplains by building houses, businesses and factories on them, which is obviously what we have done over the years, so to some degree it’s a problem of our own making,” said Roy Mosley, the head of conservation and land management at Sheffield and Rotherham Wildlife Trust.
The risk faced by floodplain communities is exacerbated by the management of land upstream of the city. Intensive animal grazing leads to short grass and compacted soil, which is less able to absorb and hold water. There are no longer enough trees and plants to absorb rain and stop it from running straight into the river, Mosley said.”