BOLTON has been placed at the centre of ambitious new plans to battle flooding in Britain.

A special area of woods and moorland above Smithills has been chosen to pilot 25 flood prevention measures.

It comes as authorities prepare for predicted extreme weather patterns expected as a result of global climate change.

Some of the projects being tested include living log jams - a type of leaky damn placed in stepped sections to slow the flow of water- and scrapes, which are shallow trenches which fill during downpours.

Other measures include dams made of peat or seedless rush bales brought from nearby farms as part of their own estate management.

The land is managed by the Woodland Trust but the research is being carried out with the help of experts from Liverpool University as well as The Environment Agency and the Mersey Forest conservation group.

Tracey Garrett, from the Woodland Trust said: “Smithills is a mixture of moorland land, grassland and woodland. The site rises up to 456m above sea level and borders a big urban area.

"The research is all about discovering the effectiveness of flood prevention measures upland and how these can help alleviate the possibility of flooding in the lowlands.”

The scheme is the brainchild of Mersey Forest's Norbury and David Brown, from the Environment Agency, with funding from the government.

One unexpectedly positive outcome of the tests has been the creation of new areas for wildlife to find homes.

The environments created by the flood defences have even attracted the keeled skimmer dragonfly to the area – believed to be the first ever sighting in Greater Manchester of this elusive insect.

In addition, it is thought that the flood defence schemes would help stop the spread of fire in the case of another disaster similar the 2018 Winter Hill blaze because many of the methods involve slowing the flow of water and creating wetter areas of land.

Speaking about the project, Mr Norbury said: “It is also about making the site more robust and able to cope with heavy rains or droughts, which are expected due to climate change.

"By wetting more extensive areas of land; patches of the landscape may be more resilient to fire and also slow the flow during downpours.”