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Water Power

Water power erodes riverbank

We all know, or should know, that water has the potential to cause devastation. How many times have we heard stories of cars being swept downstream, when a driver attempted to drive through a flooded ford only a few centimetres deep?

Just 30cm of water can begin to ‘float’ a car, lifting it just enough from the road surface to lose sufficient traction to keep it in place. Double this to around 60cm and, in moving water, you have the potential for a car to be swept away. Thankfully, these spurts of high water over our roads are infrequent but, of course, the constant pressure of water on a riverbank can be destructive.

We’ve seen (2019) how the River Breamish Riverbank Protection scheme was needed to reinstate and protect the riverbanks that had eroded in some place to around only 4m from a road. Prior to this (2015) Riverbank erosion control was needed at Branton to remedy the collapse of the riverbank adjacent to Branton Farm. And, no doubt, there will have been examples of landslips, erosion and collapses long before 2015. Clearly, water power creates, carves and transforms our landscape.

On a walk along the River Breamish just to the west of Beanley yesterday, proof of the power of water was all too obvious. On one left-sweeping bend (looking downstream), substantial sections of the bank had been eroded and collapsed onto the riverbed. These could be easily identified, as the grass was still lush and green, growing in the fallen turfs.

Photo of eroded riverbank
Water power has eroded River Breamish near Hedgeley
Photo of riverbank collapse at River Breamish
Riverbank collapse (looking upstream)

As this bank is nowhere near a road or other access route, I don’t think any large scale action will be taken to remedy the erosion. But watch this space – it’s getting bigger!


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