CHESHIRE MP Mike Amesbury would support more research into whether bringing back beavers could be part of the solution to preventing flooding in places like Northwich.

The Labour MP for Weaver Vale was given ‘food for thought’ after Cheshire Wildlife Trust invited him to see how a pair of beavers are transforming the landscape alongside Hatchmere Lake at Norley, near Frodsham.

He wonders if beavers could have a role to play as part of a multipronged approach to mitigating the risk of serious floods like those experienced in Northwich in 2019 and 2021.

Mr Amesbury said: "We’ve lost 90 per cent of wetland habitats across the country.

"But at Hatchmere just two beavers have increased the amount of wetland after building an impressive 50 metres-wide dam, with predicted improvements for bio-diversity and improved water quality."

He added: "What’s given me food for thought is the dam slows water flow.

"If released at strategic locations upstream, might beaver activity help keep river levels around Northwich low enough during heavy rainfall that surface water can escape, reducing the risk of flooding in the town centre and beyond?

"More research is needed because beavers are wild animals that are not controllable.

"What we don’t want are unforeseen effects that could cause other problems. But it’s something I would like to explore further with Cheshire West and Chester Council as the Lead Local Flood Authority."

Winsford Guardian: Trees cut down by the beavers at Hatchmere using their teethTrees cut down by the beavers at Hatchmere using their teeth

It’s 400 years since beavers were last seen in Cheshire after being hunted to extinction and they are currently illegal in England although will soon be given legal protection.

As part of a five-year pilot, the wildlife trust was granted a licence to release the male and female from Scotland – named Rowan and Willow – into a 10-hectare enclosure in 2020. Since the MP’s visit there’s been an addition to the family with the birth of a baby beaver on site.

The trust told Mr Amesbury beavers had helped with flood mitigation elsewhere.

"They gave an example of a village in Germany where flood defences costing £1m were being considered until a beaver moved in upstream and solved the problem free-of-charge," said the MP.

"Closer to home, in Devon, I read that beavers have constructed six dams upstream of the flood-prone village of East Budleigh.

"The dams have slowed the flow of floodwater through the village, reducing peak flows during flood events."

Martin Varley, director of nature recovery at the trust, added: "Beavers offer many benefits to us; water quality, flood resilience and biodiversity, while rebuilding our wetlands that have been sadly lost over time.

"It was great to show Mike around and let him see what they can do."