Protecting Boscastle from Flooding

Planning for the future – designing resilience

Following a devastating flood in Boscastle the Environment Agency wanted a reliable and detailed resource to inform and support its management activities within the River Valency Valley. It commissioned CEC’s arboriculture team to undertake an extensive tree and wood debris management survey. The survey and mapping data now forms part of the Valency Flood Defence Scheme. This information will be used to help minimise the potential devastating effect of tree debris, in the event of any future flooding. (Boscastle pictured above before the flood).

Homes and businesses devastated

Boscastle, a small fishing village on the north coast of Cornwall, hit the news headlines in 2004 when it experienced a powerful flash flood. Over a month’s worth of rain fell in the space of two hours, turning roads into rivers, washing away hundreds of cars and causing extensive damage to buildings. Fortunately, the rapid response by the emergency services who had to rescue many people by helicopter meant no lives were lost. However, the devastation caused by the flood was substantial and the village took years to recover. Homes had to be rebuilt and many businesses suffered, particularly due to the loss of income from tourism.

Assessing the vulnerable environment

It quickly became clear that the environment surrounding the village contributed to the intensity of the flood. Boscastle sits at the confluence of three rivers; the Valency, Jordan and Paradise. The river basin is made up of steep slopes and has areas of impenetrable slate causing rapid run-off. During the flood many trees were uprooted along the river banks and caused major blockages. This prevented water from flowing along the channel and draining away quickly. A thorough survey was needed to inform the management of the trees in the river basin. CEC provided detailed assessments which now form part of the village’s flood defence scheme.


“CEC are very committed to providing a quality service. The staff are experienced, knowledgeable and had an understanding of the objectives and requirements and had a very professional attitude.

Since this project, the Environment Agency have engaged the services of CEC on more Tree and Vegetation Management Surveys and I have no hesitation in recommending them.

David Stears, Principal Engineer


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