Flood defence benefits for plants and nature

Published: 15 September 2023

Marginal planting at Alvaston Park as part of the OCOR scheme

Marginal planting at Alvaston Park will boost species both in and out of the water

The landscape along the River Derwent through Derby has seen massive changes over the centuries, from a Roman settlement to the city of today. In recent years Derby City Council’s Our City, Our River (OCOR) project has continued to transform the riverside, as it continues to deliver a high-quality flood defence network for Derby.

OCOR isn’t just about flood walls and a pumping station though. From Darley Abbey to Alvaston Park, the Environment Agency’s largest authority-led scheme has been enhancing the natural environment along the Derwent in ways you may not have noticed.

Darley Abbey

At the northern end of Derby’s river corridor, improvements to Nutwood Nature Reserve include the coppicing of woodland areas to help stimulate growth.

Access to the river has been made easier for everyone, with upgraded access paths and new accessible fishing pegs.

Downstream at Darley Park, the riverbank has been reinstated and a wildflower meadow is providing the perfect home to a wide range of species, while at Darley Abbey the boardwalk again gives improved access to the river.

River Gardens to Pride Park

The most recent transformations have happened right at the heart of the city, from the Silk Mill through the River Gardens to Bass’s Recreation Ground.

High in the trees, new bird and bat nesting boxes have been installed, offering a shelter for local wildlife, while below the surface fish species like salmon have started to return to Derby. A new backwash lagoon at Bass’s Rec will also provide refuge during the spawning season.

It’s not just the fish that are feeling the benefits, as two artificial otter holts have been installed near Bass’s Rec and Pride Park to help attract the much-loved creatures back to the Derwent.

A lot of work has also gone into managing invasive species, and along Sowter Road the OCOR team have been hard at work treating Himalayan Balsam to allow native plant species to grow.

Alvaston Park

Just like the River Gardens, Alvaston Park has seen several improvements for the local animal life, with more bird and bat boxes being installed, and another fish refuge lagoon being created. Further invasive species management and marginal planting around the lake edge have also created a better ecosystem for native plants and aquatic animals.


Work on the Our City, Our River programme continues with the next phase planned for Derby Riverside. And while Derby residents will be better protected from flooding the continuing environmental enhancements will have long term benefits for nature too.

Councillor Carmel Swan, Cabinet Member for Climate Change, Transport and Sustainability, said:

The Our City, Our River programme has done a lot of good for the people of Derby, offering much-improved flood protection to thousands of properties and unlocking the potential for regeneration right through the city.

But there is so much more to this programme, and among these positives, it can be easy to miss the large-scale environmental improvements that have been carried out since it began. Thanks to OCOR, native species are thriving, while others that had disappeared from the city are beginning to return.

I want to thank the OCOR team for all their hard work so far, and I look forward to seeing progress on the next phase at Derby Riverside over the coming months.

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