Press release: Forestry England shares flood risk and biodiversity results for Cannop Ponds project

Updated 24th October 2023

Forestry England is today sharing results from two studies which have been carried out for the Cannop Ponds project. These reports look at the four proposed options and their potential impacts on biodiversity and flood risk.    

After careful consideration, Forestry England has decided that option four, the re-naturalisation 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. 

Option one (spillway and dam upgrade for both ponds) is still being considered, although it would likely deliver a loss in wildlife habitat as larger, concrete spillways would need to be built in place of the existing structures. 

Options one, two and three will now move forwards to be assessed alongside other key criteria, to confirm a preferred option early next year. Information on these options can be found online here


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.”  


See the results of the flood risk modelling online here –  

See the results of the biodiversity net gain assessment here -  


See more news from the Cannop Ponds Project