Reducing flood risk in Lambeth

February 27, 2015

floodSign_jpgThis week the Lambeth Local Flood Risk Management Strategy was published online, with hard copies available in all Lambeth libraries.  The strategy provides an overview of what we, as the Lead Local Flood Authority, plan to do to reduce the risk of flooding in the future.

The strategy covers many topics related to flooding in Lambeth and it shows how addressing flooding can have many positive impacts on other environmental problems.  One example is the use of Sustainable urban Drainage Systems (SuDS).

SuDS mimic natural drainage and reduce the amount of water entering the sewer system.  SuDS can range from green roofs and walls, to rain gardens and engineered tree pits, which have the ability to store water. In addition to reducing the amount of surface water runoff, SuDs present a number of positive side effects:

  • reducing the urban heat island effects, cooling the street temperature by replacing hard surfaces with plants;
  • reducing air pollution by planting trees and plants;
  • improving water quality;
  • improving biodiversity through planting native and nectar-rich species, encouraging more insects and wildlife to an area;
  • improving the local environment and creating more green spaces;

We been at the forefront of delivering SuDS in London, through Highways and Parks projects and through working with community groups and residents. We are also proud to have worked with the London Wildlife Trust helping to introduce SuDS along the route of the lost River Effra.

SuDS are just one way we can reduce flood risk in the Borough.  For information visit our website and have a look at the Local Flood Risk Management Strategy.

Rain Garden at Cressingham Gardens Estate

December 2, 2014

Yesterday, I went along to see work begin on what will be Lambeth’s biggest rain garden.

Currently, water from three downpipes on the estate runs on to a grassed area and then makes its way down and out on to Tulse Hill. During heavy rainfall, a significant amount of water flows down to the road. The garden will help to reduce this by retaining the water and allowing it to slowly soak into the soil.

How does a rain garden work?

A diagram of the planned gardens at Cressingham Gardens.

Cressingham - cut through

The first day


1. We started by marking out the areas for digging. There are three sections and each sits directly under a downpipe.


2. We then carefully removed the turf and placed this to one side to be used later on the berms, or garden walls.


3. Once all the turf had been removed, the hard work really started and we began digging out the gardens. We removed a lot of clay which will have added to the current drainage problems. The remaining earth will be mixed with compost to improve drainage and placed back into garden over a layer of gravel.

Despite the very best efforts of staff and volunteers, we didn’t manage to dig out all of the gardens in one day. Work will continue at a later date and a planting session (which will be rather less strenuous!) will be arranged in the near future.

If you would like to get involved in future sessions, please contact Helen Spring at the Lost Effra Project

We’ll keep you up to date with this project and really look forward to seeing the finished gardens.

If you would like to hear about similar projects, please subscribe to this blog, follow us on Twitter or subscribe to our Green Community Champions e-newsletter.




Sign up to receive our weekly Green Community Champion e-newsletter

November 21, 2014

GreenField_jpgWould you like to receive a weekly update of all that’s green in Lambeth? We’ve put together a weekly e-newsletter which is a round up of local events, projects, vacancies, meetings, courses and good news stories.

We are also really happy to receive submissions for the newsletter, so if you are looking for volunteers for your project, would like to advertise your local group or tell us about something you’re working on to make your neighbourhood greener, then please drop us a line at

Help us to shape how we manage flood risk in Lambeth

June 27, 2014
People stood outside of their flooded houses in 1914

Flooding from the River Effra in 1914

Did you know that approximately 46,000 residential and non-residential properties in Lambeth have been identified as being at particular risk of flooding? The flood risk comes from surface water runoff, groundwater and small watercourses and ditches.

We are now the Lead Local Flood Authority for the London Borough of Lambeth and have a responsibility to lead and co-ordinate local flood risk management.

We have devised a new draft Flood Risk Management Strategy which outlines the priorities for local flood risk management and provides a delivery plan to manage the risk over the next five years.

It outlines our aims for managing flood risk, including:

  •  Improving knowledge and understanding of local flood risk
  • Using available information on flood risk to predict flooding and issue warnings
  • Increasing awareness of flooding
  • Working in partnership with Risk Management Authorities, communities and businesses
  • Encouraging and implementing sustainable drainage solutions
  • Ensuring that planning has a positive or nil effect on flood risk

We would like your feedback!

The draft Lambeth Flood Risk Management Strategy and guidance for residents can by found on our website. You can leave feedback by completing on our online survey.

The survey will take approximately 10 minutes to complete and your feedback will help us to shape how we manage flood risk in Lambeth in the future.

Creating space for wildlife at Lambeth Reuse and Recycling Centre

April 17, 2014

Last week 4 volunteers got to work to turn an unused corner of Lambeth Reuse and Recycling Centre into a haven for wildlife.

First the area had to be cleared of overgrowth and litter as the blackberries and budleja had taken over most of the site making it difficult for other species to survive.


The overgrown site

Volunteers busy at work

Volunteers busy at work

Once the site was cleared leaving a single blackberry bush, a maple tree and a single budleja behind, work began on providing new habitats for insects, birds and native plants.

This ‘bug hotel’ was made from an old pallet and used glass bottles. The spaces were later filled with sticks and straw to create an attractive environment for insects.

Bug hotel made from glass bottles and pallets

Bug hotel made from glass bottles and pallets

A similar ‘hotel’ was made using old tins and cans. This will be fixed to the side of our shipping container alongside a similar box which is full of sheep’s wool for use by nesting birds.

Another habitat for bugs made from tins and cans

Another habitat for bugs made from tins and cans

There’s still a lot of work to be done. Wildflowers and climbing plants will be planted to attract a range of butterflies and bees and a greater variety of insects will in turn attract garden birds. The next stage of the project will also include the building of bird and bat boxes.

These recent works are in addition to the work that has already been completed on the roof of the shipping container and staff welfare unit. Both have been fitted with living roofs, which as well as providing a valuable habitat, help with drainage, minimise water run-off, reduce urban heat island effect and help to clean local air pollution.

The green roof on our shipping container

The green roof on our shipping container

The changes are all designed to make Lambeth Reuse and Recycling Centre  more sustainable as well as nicer place to visit and work. The changes benefit the local environment by improving the ecological services the site can provide. We were also pleased that a neighbouring resident whose property overlooks the site commented on how it had improved her view!

The cleared site with new habitats

The cleared site with new habitats

We’ll post further updates as the project continues and hope to be able to tell you about some of our new inhabitants as and when they move in!

Don’t pour it, store it! New oil recycling banks come to Lambeth.

November 25, 2013

Oil recycling bankIt is estimated that UK households purchase over 200 million litres of cooking oil per year and on average 110,000,000 litres of this oil is poured down drains. That’s enough cooking oil to fill an incredible 44 Olympic swimming pools!

Unfortunately, disposing of oil in this way causes problems for our sewer systems. Approximately £15 million is spent annually on clearing blockages from our sewers. You may remember the ‘Fatberg’  story from earlier this year, when a bus sized lump of fat and wet wipes was removed from drains under Kingston-upon-Thames.

There are approximately 200,000 sewer blockages throughout the UK every year, of which up to 75% are caused by fats, oils and grease and approximately 1,000 homes and 5,000 gardens in the Thames region flood with sewage as a result of blockages in the sewers.

Recycle your oil into biodiesel

A much better way to dispose of cooking oil is to deposit it in one of our new recycling banks, where it will be recycled into biodiesel. Biodiesel is a replacement fuel, which is better for the environment than petrol and diesel, and produces fewer emissions.

The banks collect cooking oil in plastic bottles, so once you have finished cooking wait for the oil to cool and pour it into a plastic bottle. Once the bottle is full, screw the lid on tightly and take the bottle to one of the oil recycling banks. Place the secured bottle into the green cooking oil recycling bank and, when the bank is full, we will arrange for this to be emptied and the oil and fats within recycled into a biofuel. The used plastic bottles are recycled separately.

You will find the new oil recycling banks at the following locations:

New green roof installed at Lambeth Reuse and Recycling Centre

July 12, 2013

Green roof at Lambeth Reuse and Recycling CentreAs part of the general improvements at Lambeth’s Reuse and Recycling Centre in Vale Street we have installed a new office unit. The offices are housed within a refurbished portacabin supplied by Eco Modular Buildings. Reusing the unit means that its manufacturing impact and carbon footprint have been minimised and only FSC certified and locally sourced timber have been used in its construction.

The roof of the unit has been fitted with a green sedum roof, which will help to keep the unit cooler in the summer months and warmer in the winter.

Green roofs have many additional benefits:

Biodiversity – They create a natural habitat, encouraging insects, birds and butterflies. This is particularly important in urban areas where much of this habitat has been lost.

Absorption of storm water – They absorb rainfall that would normally run off hard surfaces, reducing the risk of flooding.

Pollution reduction – Plants absorb noise, trap dust, recycle carbon dioxide, and absorb and break down many gaseous pollutants.

Close up of green roof

This is the first of a number of environmental initiatives at Lambeth Reuse and Recycling Centre, a further green roof and a mini wildlife haven are planned for the near future.