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University partners in £10m flood basin on former Irwell campus

Friday 2 February 2018

A £10m FLOOD scheme which will protect almost 2,000 homes and businesses, hold more than 250 Olympic-sized swimming pools of water during a flood and includes more than 5 hectares of urban wetland habitat, has been officially completed today (Friday 2 February).

The Salford Flood Improvement Scheme is built on the former University of Salford Castle Irwell and sports campus.  

It delivers on a long-held vision to not only reduce the risk of flooding from the River Irwell – but also to provide a boost to local wildlife populations by including a high quality urban wetland habitat.  

Wetlands provide many benefits to society and help us to be more resilient to the effects of our changing climate. They provide multiple benefits such as slowing the flow of water, reducing flood risk, filtering water and capturing carbon. Their importance is increasing as a result of climate and land    use change.  

Devastating floods  

The scheme will provide increased protection to more than 1,900 homes and businesses across Lower Broughton and Lower Kersal. Lower Broughton was affected by the devastating floods that struck the city on Boxing Day in 2015.  

Floods Minister Thérèse Coffey said: “How fitting that on World Wetlands Day a new scheme in Salford is opening that will reduce flood risk to thousands of homes and businesses and deliver a lasting legacy for wildlife in this area with five hectares of new urban wetland habitat.”  

The entire 28 hectare flood basin sits within a meander loop of the River Irwell and will protect surrounding properties by holding up to 650 million litres of water – the equivalent to 260 Olympic-size swimming pools – during flood conditions.  

To create the storage capacity ground was excavated from the site and then reused to build a raised embankment around the periphery to form part of the defence system.

The embankment’s south-west corner features an inlet to allow the controlled spill of water into the basin when river levels are high. Water is then stored in the basin during a flood and released by two outlet pipes back into the river once the water level has dropped.


Making the most of every design aspect, the flood embankments have been planted with 10ha of wildflower habitat, to attract pollinating species such as lady birds, moths, butterflies and bees – whose population has dramatically declined across the county in recent years..  

Within the basin area, a number of multi-use sports pitches have been given improved playing surfaces and better drainage systems, making them more resilient to flooding than the pitches that were in place before the scheme.  

Throughout the 3-year construction term, the Environment Agency worked closely with Salford City Council, the local community steering group, the Broughton Trust, Salford Friendly Anglers, Kersal Vale Allotment & Horticultural Society and the University of Salford.

The scheme’s completion will officially be marked with the unveiling of a plaque by the Environment Agency’s Chair Emma Howard-Boyd and the city’s Mayor Paul Dennett.