THE head of a wildlife conservation body is calling on the Government to improve the water-holding capacity of the land to combat flooding.

Following the extreme floods experienced in the South and South-West, Dr Rob Stoneman, chief executive of Yorkshire Wildlife Trust, is urging any additional investment in flood defences to include options for creating water storage areas within river catchments.

He said: “To help address the flooding issues witnessed since Christmas it is important that the Government invests in a number of river catchment-wide solutions. These solutions may include traditional flood defences, but crucially must also include measures which allow for improved water storage within the river catchments themselves – a solution which works with nature rather than against it.”

Dr Stoneman said a wetland nature reserve belonging to the wildlife trust near Doncaster prevented parts of Doncaster flooding when it took on floodwater during 2007 and also provided habitats for wildlife.

In response to the Government’s proposals to deal with the flooding situation by dredging rivers, he added: ““Whilst dredging rivers may have some use in certain situations, the effect is both small and can often contribute to more serious downstream flooding; a consequence that was highlighted in the report released by the Chartered Institute of Water Engineers on Friday 14th February.

“Dredging rivers is not a complete solution; planning to reduce the impact of flooding must include improving our ability to store water at a catchment-wide level.”