Flooding in AG

Since this page was first added to the website a great deal of work has been done to lessen the likelihood of flooding in the village, and to mitigate the effects of  both rainfall and tidal flood water. As a result, it is worth pointing out that MUCH OF THE CONTENT HERE IS HISTORICAL

Flooding – What happened here

A page in our photo Gallery –  Flooding in the Parish – illustrates the widespread floods in the valley in 2012 and  2014. They show just how spectacular the flooding was, but thankfully in most cases there was remarkably little damage.  Thanks to all the people who have contributed their photos for this.

Parts of the parish have been affected by flooding several times over the last twenty years, but we have never been so badly hit as we were in 2012 and 14. We are in an unusual situation here with two streams crossing the lower part of the parish – Parson’s Brook and Waterhead stream flow down from different parts of the catchment and on into a tidal stretch of the River Avon.

The nationwide damage in 2014 gave rise to a more positive attitude in central and local government to try to tackle some of the issues, and Aveton Gifford has benefited from this. In 2014 Devon County Council funded two very effective improvements to accommodate the flow of flood water in both of our streams; the culvert under the bridge at Tree Corner was enlarged (the previous culvert was far too small to cope with the quantity of rain after a flash rainstorm); a new parapet replaced the originals at Waterhead bridge, (previously the bridge acted as a dam to prevent the flow of water) with several gaps in the stonework on both sides to allow flood water to flow both below and above the roadway, and carry on down the stream.

Since then similar flash rainstorms have affected both these streams, but now that the “dam” effect at both bridges has been removed the nearby houses have remained dry; householders previously affected all feel sure that these two improvements alone have made a dramatic and positive difference to their flood risk.

The Flood Resilience Community Pathfinder Project

Aveton Gifford was one of fifteen communities across Devon to benefit from being part of this pilot project;  there would be help and advice for a group of volunteers to set in place our own flood prevention measures in the parish. As a result we set up our own self help flood resilience group including many of the householders who had been affected, representatives from the hall, the school and the pre-school, and other volunteers willing to help.

AG Flood Group – The Aims.

  • To identify the vulnerable areas in the parish.
  • To identify the causes of flooding there on each occasion.
  • To understand what the threats are in terms of weather conditions.
  • To understand what the threats are in terms of safety.
  • To set up a flood alert system of our own – many of the national warning systems are not always relevant here, and we needed something more appropriate and reliable.
  • To put in place preventative measures where possible.
  • To make an action plan so that danger and damage is limited during a flood.
  • and as time went on; To share and gather further information through Flood and Community Resilience Forums to enable our own parish community resilience.

The Flood Resilience Project – grant money

In addition grant money was available to many of the 2014 affected households to install flood doors and other preventative measures. It also provided equipment for use by the Flood Group and volunteers to take preventative action, and in the worst case for clearing up afterwards.

The Flood Resilience Project was set up with householders and residential properties in mind. However because our one community village hall has been so badly affected by flooding in past years, Aveton Gifford was very lucky to be able to benefit from additional grant money to make flood resilience improvements to the hall.

Rain Gauges

Localised heavy rainfall is often difficult to predict, and in spite of more accurate weather forecasts nowadays, rain does not always follow the expected direction or quantity so flash floods are  difficult to forecast. Many of our floods have been caused after flash storms in the catchment areas of the two streams through the village and Waterhead.

With advice from the Flood Resilience Project and the availability of grant money Aveton Gifford installed two different monitoring systems to see if these could be helpful. A rain gauge installed to forecast prevailing weather  proved after 4 years to have been ineffective, and so has been discontinued. However a very effective second gauge measuring the height of water in Parson’s Brook by Mill Cottage triggers phone alerts to nearby residents when the height of  that stream has risen above the norm, and preparations can be made if necessary. These have proved very helpful, particularly when some of them have happened during the night. However, thankfully, since the culvert has been widened to cope with the flow of flash flood water, the stream has never risen to past flood levels.

Dredging to Parson’s Brook

Dredging and clearing the impacted silt from under the bypass was finally undertaken in October 2015 – a report on the works can be read in the Oct/November 2015 issue of the mAGpie:

Posts around the car park 

Cars have been flooded several times here in the lower part of the hall car park, and during the very high water of 2014 there was a danger of some of them washing into the stream.  Sturdy chestnut posts have been installed around the parking area to prevent this.

Replacement of bridges over the brook in the Rectory Lawns

This is a copy of an article published in the June 2017 edition of the mAGpie;

If you’ve had a walk through Rectory Lawns recently you may have seen some changes. As part of our ongoing flood prevention measures, two new bridges have been put up to replace the older wooden ones crossing Parson’s Brook. Advice from Devon County’s Flood Resilience team has recommended that everything bordering a watercourse must be completely secure so that nothing can wash away to block bridges or culverts and drains, and we do know to our cost that several houses and the hall have flooded on various occasions over the years when the flow of flood water has been obstructed. Even though work on Tree Corner bridge and recent dredging has improved our flood risk in the village, when we had very heavy rainfall on February 1st this year, the stream overtopped the banks and the bridges in the Rectory Lawns, and the bridges themselves  collected a large amount of debris washed down by the storm.  This highlighted something that has been an ongoing concern for some years; flood water has often loosened them, and on occasion even pulled them right out of the ground, and they can then be carried downstream to block the culvert under the road by the Abrahall’s house. (This culvert is one of our Flood Black Spots; anything blocking the flow of the stream acts as a dam and could cause more flooding to the car park and nearby properties, particularly the hall. The posts put up around the lower car park there now prevent cars being washed into the stream, but February’s heavy rainfall showed that this is still a very vulnerable area, and the one thing left to secure was the bridges.)

When the wooden bridges were taken out in May it could be seen that the fixings had already started to rot, so if nothing had been done about them this could easily have happened again. These new galvanised bridges are longer and much higher than the old ones so flash rainwater can flow right underneath without any obstructions, and they are also heavier and much more securely installed to reduce any danger of washing away. Since they have been put in place some modifications have been made to reduce the gradient of the ramps at either end, and to reduce noise from the metal surface. Both bridges will then be finished with a non-slip top coat which will be laid down over the metal walkway to make them safe in all weather conditions. Once all the work is complete they will be almost maintenance free, last considerably longer than the old wooden ones, and make a positive difference in reducing our flood risk to properties. They have been paid for out of money for our flood resilience measures.

Emergency Plan

The parish Emergency Plan has been drawn up, and a separate Flood Plan details the actions to be taken before, during and after flooding, using our teams of volunteers and flood wardens (trained as part of the input from the DCC Flood Resilience Project).

Flood information and self-help measures

Useful Info

Environment Agency flood page

This will take you to a lot of information including flood forecasts, and advice about how to prepare for flooding, and during, and then after a flood.

South Hams District Council flood prevention

with advice and  downloads and further links to other agencies.

National Flood Forum

has advice on insurance and flood protection.

Waterside properties

  • If you have a waterside property the Environment Agency’s page for riperian property owners may be of interest.
  • The EA also publishes a leaflet explaining your rights and responsibilities “Living On the Edge”:



Jacobs report into flooding in AG catchment – 2013 0.00 KB 2020 downloads

This is the report commissioned by DCC into the specific factors which contributed to the flooding in Aveton Gifford village.


Update on progress from Flood Risk Management Team. 0.00 KB 2132 downloads

This update gives the background to how Aveton Gifford became a part of the pilot scheme for the Flood Risk Management Team.

The following three reports were published to summarise the various flooding events in 2012.

Contact Numbers

Flood group committee members:

NameContact details
Tim Abrahalltel: 01548 559144
Ros Broussontel: 01548 550792
Peter Smithtel: 01548 550272
Peter Javes (parish clerk)tel: 01548 559283
email: agpcclerk@gmail.com
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