Flood Risk is an increasing concern across Somerset. Natural Flood Management (NFM) can play an important part in reducing flood risk by Working With Natural Processes to slow the flow and reduce the size and frequency of flood peaks.

Prior to human intervention, many rivers would have been slow flowing, with shallow, multi-braided channels spreading across the surrounding valley floor. Over the centuries of human farming, land drainage and development, many rivers have been significantly modified and confined to narrow single channels and disconnected from their floodplains, so that they have become deeply incised, and rarely flood out onto the surrounding floodplain. This has led to faster flows and higher flood peaks, lower water tables and summer drought, soil erosion, sediment, poor water quality and reduced biodiversity.

A Natural Flood Management project has been developed to address flood risk across the Somerset Frome river catchment south of Frome town (see red boundary below).


The Project is funded by Mendip District Council and the Somerset Rivers Authority. It is led by the Farming and Wildlife Advisory Group South West and builds on FWAG SW’s highly successful Hills to Levels project, which was highlighted in the Government’s 25 Year Environment Plan.

As part of this work, an NFM scheme is under construction along the Hermitage Stream, at Holt Farm, Witham Friary. FWAG SW approached the owner of Holt Farm who was found to be supportive. The Scheme has been designed by Hydro-Morph Ltd, a specialist river restoration consultancy, and FWAG SW. Local contractor Paul Millard, Plant Hire Ltd, is constructing the scheme which should be completed in November 2021.  

This scheme aims to restore the natural flood plain functionality at Holt Farm by:

  • Lowering sections of the riverbank 


  • Creating leaky woody dams in the stream to encourage water out on to the floodplain


  • Creating shallow scrapes and using timber to roughen-up the floodplain


This will create more space for water on the Holt Farm floodplain and encourage water out of channel into this space, thereby slowing the flow and contributing to flood risk reduction downstream. The scheme will also create new wetland habitat and greater biodiversity at Holt Farm. Together with other planned schemes, Holt Farm will contribute to a cumulative flood risk reduction across the Somerset Frome river catchment.

For Further information about the Somerset Frome NFM project please contact Ali Morgan on [email protected]