IN recent years the Environment Agency has placed an increased emphasis on natural flood management (NFM) as part of a series of measures to manage flood risk.

NFM involves working with natural processes to slow the flow of river water and reduce surface water run-off.

This usually includes measures such as restoring flood plains, tree planting, installing felled timber within woodlands to intercept flow and build leaky dams within river channels to further hold back water especially at times of heavy rain.

Other methods used are the traditional flood risk management techniques such as floodwater storage areas as have just been completed near the Skipton Golf Club and adjacent to Otley Road on the outskirts of Skipton.

Building riverside walls is another technique but engineering solutions will still remain part of the overall flood defence measures.

Angling also benefits from flood management as slower flows means less banking erosion and less sediment deposited on the river bed, smothering gravels and reducing the quality of fish spawning and feeding grounds.

The EA and its partners have a good record of using techniques which provide an NFM benefit in completed and ongoing ecological improvement projects.

This year, partnership funding has been announced to take advantage of the latest NFM techniques on a good number of Yorkshire rivers and becks, including the planting of hundreds of thousands of saplings across the Aire catchment to reduce surface water run-off in Phase Two of the Leeds Flood Alleviation Scheme.

The Fisheries Improvement Programme receives its income from the sale of rod licences to support environmental projects that will benefit fisheries.

Recent work on the river at Gargrave and Skipton has covered the installation of over 600 metres of fencing to prevent sheep and cattle entering the river and the placing of wooden deflectors to vary the flow and clean the gravel.

This work has already seen an increase in the numbers and species of invertebrates in the river and an increase in the number of fish being caught.

The Broughton Road length of the canal will be the venue for the sixth Skipton Winter League match this Sunday.

There is a prospect of cold weather again but the greater depth of the canal on the match length may be to the competitor's advantage.