South Milford Restoration Project

Mill dike is a small tributary of the River Wharfe, which flows through the civil parish of South Milford in the district of Shelby. The Mill dike catchment includes the settlements of Newthorpe, South Milford and Micklefield and is largely agricultural, with a mix of arable and livestock farming. South Milford village suffers from regular flooding. The river is culverted underneath the village and floods occur when debris builds up on the culvert screen or in the bottom of the culvert. This leads to the culvert getting blocked up and it’s capacity decreasing rapidly, meaning the flow will exceed the culverts capacity and flood much more often.

Further, all the streams in the catchment are failing to achieve ‘Good’ ecological condition under the Water Framework Directive (an EU policy that protects and cleans all water catchments and sources). This is associated with high levels of Phosphates leading to ‘moderate’ communities of Macrophytes and Phytobenthos (small plants). The Environment Agency has identified this area as a priority for water quality improvements and the Dales to Vales River Network has shaped a project to reduce sediment and nutrient inputs into the streams. Reducing the amount of sediment and debris entering Mill Dike upstream from South Milford village will also help to reduce flood risk.

This project has received £15,000 of funding from the Environment Agency and further funds are being sought from other sources.


The overarching aim of the project is to improve the Water Framework Directive classification of the catchment. This shall be achieved by targeting our work towards the issues highlighted from walkover surveys conducted in early 2016. Overland run-off and bank poaching were identified as the most common issues. The project will also incorporate Natural Flood Management measures within individual projects to reduce flood risk in the village.

In developing this project, the Yorkshire Dales River Trust have worked closely with South Milford Against Flooding local group. Engaging with the local community and specifically this interest group will be central to the project.


  • An event for local farmers to raise awareness of the Catchment Sensitive Farming initiative and wider water quality issues.
  • On-the-ground measures to reduce sediment inputs to the beck, targeting issues identified in walkover surveys conducted in early 2016. These are likely to include livestock exclusion fencing, tree planting and Natural Flood Measurements features such as leaky dams and wetland creation.
  • Visiting local schools with our Educational river table
  • Citizen monitoring of the catchment

Retention Ponds

The Yorkshire Dales River Trust is looking into introducing a Retention Pond near to Mill Dike. A Retention Pond is a permanent pool of water that has the capability of storing more water floods and storms. The excess water stored is slowly drained out to leave the pond with its normal level of water. Unlike a Detention Pond which drains completely, the Retention Pond will allow a flooding defence that keeps a permanent habitat for water life and birds.

The Retention Pond will hold excess water when flooding events occur, stopping most of the water from getting to the village. the water is then drained out slowly and naturally, so it doesn’t add to the flooding event.