THE re-naturalising of the Cannop Brook which would have resulted in the loss of the ponds is no longer being considered by Forestry England (FE), after a study found it could actually increase the risk of flooding.

But although the news will be welcomed by supporters of the Save Cannop Ponds campaign, FE has said that campaigners’ preferred option - to replace the dams and spillways entirely to retain the ponds in their current state - would likely lead to the loss of wildlife habitat due to the building of “larger, concrete structures”. 

That option (option one) is still being considered, but a report from FE suggests that options two and three are now looking the most likely to be carried forward.

It follows two studies carried out recently by FE on flood risk and biodiversity net gain of the four options being considered for the future of the ponds.

A report on the findings says: “After careful consideration, Forestry England has decided that option four, the renaturalisation of Cannop Brook, is no longer viable and will not be progressed further. 

“This option restored the original watercourse, similar to how it would have been before the construction of the reservoirs. 

“The biodiversity results show that this option would deliver habitat improvements, that would in turn benefit wildlife. 

“However, the flood modelling results show a potential increase in future flood risk. 

“Forestry England has previously committed to deliver a project which will not cause any worsening of future flood risk. 

“The aim is to ideally improve future risk, and so this option has been discounted.

“Options two (storm water storage through the removal of the upper reservoir spillway) and option three (creation of a cascade of ponds through the removal of both spillways) have also been shown to deliver an increase in biodiversity, as they would both create more complex habitats. 

“The flood modelling indicates that option two would also deliver a tangible downstream flood risk benefit to people and properties.” 

Options one, two and three will now undergo further assessment alongside “other key criteria”, to confirm a preferred option early next year, FE says.

Josh Howe, Director of Engineering for Forestry England, said: “The results of these two studies will play an important role in the decision-making process for this project and have already helped us narrow down the options. 

“We are facing a changing climate and a biodiversity crisis and so delivering a project that will mitigate against future flood risk whilst supporting habitats and species is vital. 

Both these factors are crucial, and we need to strike a careful balance between them.

“Our next steps will be to combine this information with the other data being gathered in order to put forward a preferred option early next year.”