Case study:Long Preston Deeps Flood Plain Project

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Location: 54° 2' 37", -2° 17' 27"
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Project overview

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Status In progress
Project web site
Themes Environmental flows and water resources, Fisheries, Flood risk management, Habitat and biodiversity, Hydromorphology, Land use management - agriculture, Social benefits, Water quality
Country England
Main contact forename Alison
Main contact surname Whalley
Main contact user ID User:Awhalley
Contact organisation Environment Agency
Contact organisation web site
Partner organisations Long Preston Wet Grassland Project Group, Natural England, RSPB, Yorkshire Millennium Trust, Ribble Rivers Trust
Parent multi-site project
This is a parent project
encompassing the following
Project picture

Project summary

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The flood plain project is a combined flood plain and river restoration project. Main drivers for the project: UK: Site Special Scientific Interest remedies, UK Biodiversity Action Plan Targets, UK Climate Change adaptation, UK: Water Quality targets EU: Water Framework Directive.

Main Outcomes:

Key Outcome 1: Long Preston Wet Grassland: Project achieved 97% of 765 hectares of floodplain into voluntary Environmental Stewardship Agreement using evidence based management plans. Partnership: Since 2004 over 10 organisations (Public/Private and Charitable)came together to develop a vision for the river and flood plain. Between 2005 and 2013 the partnership implemented works; achieving a sustainable current and future environmental and social resource.

Baseline: In 2004 The flood plain baseline indicated by Site of Special Scientific Interest monitoring indicated that the site had high potential to support wading and over wintering birds but condition assessments indicated degraded habitat.

Result: Ongoing monitoring indicated site is now nationally important for several species of breeding wading bird of conservation concern; at least 60 pairs breed there. More than 2500 individual overwintering waders and wildfowl have been counted in recent winters. 97% of 765 hectares of floodplain is now in some form of voluntary Environmental Stewardship Agreement. SSSI condition statement has highlighted site is now recovering.

Key Outcome 2: Long Preston Deeps River Restoration: Between 2009 and 2013 the partnership produced a strategic river restoration plan for 7km and implemented over 3.5 km of naturalisation and restoration with riverine floodplain improvements of >15 hectares.

The river naturalisation was designed and carried out to enable minimal future human intervention. Complementary strategic management projects including River Ribble Invasive Species Project were developed and implemented alongside.

Monitoring: Wide range of monitoring techniques from standard SSSI conditions assessment, fish surveys, University of Salford hydrological monitoring, RSPB bird surveys, kite photography surveys, Archaeology watching briefs. University of Salford monitoring results demonstrate naturalisation techniques have been successful in reducing erosion and stabilising in channel morphology. Fish and Bird surveys indicate desirable species are increasing in number. Visitor number increasing utilising promotional materials e.g. website, local businesses, interpretation boards and organised events. Site used nationally as a case-study of WFD action implementation and river restoration conference sharing.

How was all of this achieved?: Strong partnership, Variety of communication strategies, Excellent consultation, ambitious multi objective vision, utilisation of voluntary government supported eco and farming sensitive sustainable management, showcasing success, detailed monitoring, community events and resources, dedicated long standing project officer, naturalisation to enable minimal future river intervention, complementary projects, recording, sharing and learning from lessons learnt, planning for the future, expanding partnership to incorporate new objectives and funding sources.

Monitoring surveys and results

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Monitoring of the site has revealed changes to the in-channel morphology following several geomorphologically effective floods, recording sediment shoaling, riffle development and an overall slowing of erosion of the bed and banks. Reconnected palaeo features have been rejuvenated; reducing overall erosive forces in the previously confined main channel. Improved floodplain connectivity and increased floodplain area have led to more frequent inundation and the deposition of significant quantities of overbank fines. Wetter habitats are also developing across the floodplain.

Lessons learnt

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Communication: - Consultation and communication of the vision and the business plan is key to success. - Groups of individuals representing a stakeholder interest do not response to communication events equally. The communication style must be chosen to reflect differing responses to change and different personalities types - Professional communications teams should be used to establish methods. - Use experts within the project team for example an agricultural expert to work with the farming community to assess pros and cons of project for the land owners; - Detailed records of events and outcomes of consultations should be kept and widely shared. - More than one consultation event should be held and tailored to the required outcome. The event should specify what it is not consulting on as well as what it is.

Techniques used: - There may be the need to revisit if monitoring results indicate methods have not been successful in delivering specified outcomes. Partners have a duty of care to landowners and riparian rights owners to ensure that if a risk based approach has been used and accepted, future tweaking may be required to achieve the desired outcome.

Localism and Trust: - Those affected by the project need to trust those carrying out the project. They will still be farming the land in 20 years or fishing the banks. Trust is incredibly important. Local people should be utilised on the steering group and through the delivery of the project.

Doing too much too quickly: - Delivering too much too quickly could cause problems for benefits realisation and local trust in the project. River restoration is mostly constrained to seasonal work in channel and on the flood embankments due to ecology, social and working conditions. Establish working window and ensure if work cannot comfortably be completed before the window ends; complete it next year or when funding is available.

Changing opportunities: - Constantly review opportunities of outcomes and funding options. New schemes, political agendas and ways of working rapidly change. Funding may not be available for some opportunities but working with a wide range of partners enables shared use of skills and resources.

Image gallery

Laser Scanner
Allowing natural features to form after years of constrained channel
Re-connecting ice age features
Machines re-aligning the flood banks
New wetland scrape

Catchment and subcatchment


River basin district North West
River basin Ribble


River name RIBBLE
Area category
Area (km2)
Maximum altitude category
Maximum altitude (m)
Dominant geology
Ecoregion Great Britain
Dominant land cover
Waterbody ID GB531207112400

Other case studies in this subcatchment: Diffusing the Issue in rural Ribble


WFD water body codes GB531207112400
WFD (national) typology
WFD water body name RIBBLE
Pre-project morphology
Reference morphology
Desired post project morphology
Heavily modified water body No
National/international site designation
Local/regional site designations
Protected species present No
Invasive species present No
Species of interest
Dominant hydrology
Dominant substrate
River corridor land use
Average bankfull channel width category
Average bankfull channel width (m)
Average bankfull channel depth category
Average bankfull channel depth (m)
Mean discharge category
Mean annual discharge (m3/s)
Average channel gradient category
Average channel gradient
Average unit stream power (W/m2)

Project background

Reach length directly affected (m) 7000
7,000 m
7 km
700,000 cm
Project started 2004/01/01
Works started 2005/01/01
Works completed
Project completed
Total cost category
Total cost (k€)
Benefit to cost ratio
Funding sources

Cost for project phases

Phase cost category cost exact (k€) Lead organisation Contact forename Contact surname
Investigation and design DEFRA agencies Alison Whalley
Stakeholder engagement and communication Long Preston Wet Grassland Project Group
Works and works supervision
Post-project management and maintenance

Reasons for river restoration

Mitigation of a pressure Land drainage
Hydromorphology Channel pattern/planform
Other reasons for the project


Structural measures
Bank/bed modifications Realignment of flood banks
Floodplain / River corridor River naturalisation, Scrapes, Reconnecting palaeo riverine features, Floodplain reconnection
Planform / Channel pattern
Non-structural measures
Management interventions
Social measures (incl. engagement)


Hydromorphological quality elements

Element When monitored Type of monitoring Control site used Result
Before measures After measures Qualitative Quantitative

Biological quality elements

Element When monitored Type of monitoring Control site used Result
Before measures After measures Qualitative Quantitative

Physico-chemical quality elements

Element When monitored Type of monitoring Control site used Result
Before measures After measures Qualitative Quantitative

Any other monitoring, e.g. social, economic

Element When monitored Type of monitoring Control site used Result
Before measures After measures Qualitative Quantitative

Monitoring documents

Additional documents and videos

Additional links and references

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Supplementary Information

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