Bude flood defence and river restoration scheme

From the Environment Agency:


The Bude flood defence and river restoration scheme is a £2.1 million scheme to improve the existing flood alleviation scheme and restore the ecological potential of the River Neet between Whalesborough Weir and Pethericks Mill Nature Reserve.

Bude has a long history of flooding, from the River Neet and Bude Canal, tidal surges and storm waves. Following an extreme flood event experienced during the 1950s, the Bude flood alleviation scheme was constructed. The scheme was later updated following a major fluvial flood in 1993.

Over time some elements of the scheme have declined in condition and require intervention to maintain the design standard of protection it provides.

The flood defences identified as requiring attention are the earth flood embankment to the rear of Bude tourist information centre running between the canal and Bencoolen Bridge and the masonry-faced embankment on Ergue-Gaberic Way between the Masonic Hall and Nanny Moore’s Bridge. Without action, these defences will continue to weaken and flood risk to nearby properties will increase.

Since the construction of the existing Bude flood alleviation scheme, Bude has still been significantly affected by further extreme events, with the most notable recent events occurring:

  • June 1993 when over 71 properties (residential and non-residential) were flooded due to fluvial and surface water flooding
  • August 2004 when the river exceeded the defences at Bencoolen Bridge
  • March 2008 saw high spring tides and strong winds, which resulted in coastal flooding
  • January and February 2014 when high tide and wave progression up the River Neet resulted in defence overtopping at Nanny Moore’s Bridge and flooding of properties, exceeding the defence levels along the recreation ground and flooding the area around Leven Cottages
  • On all coastal flood warnings, Environment Agency Field Services teams attend with pumps to evacuate water resulting from the wave over-topping of the defences.

A virtual town hall event was held on 23 June 2021 to explain more about the project and give the opportunity for interested people to ask questions.

The River Neet as it flows through the town
The River Neet, Bude


The scheme has benefited from £2.1 million funding as part of the government’s £170 million fund to accelerate the delivery of flood risk management schemes nationally.

The Crescent flood defence and river restoration project will better protect the local community and economy from flood events, predicted to increase in the near future as a result of climate change.

The proposed work will strengthen the existing flood defences and provide a solid foundation for future scheme improvements, protecting 22 residential properties and 15 commercial and community properties along The Crescent and Ergue-Gaberic Way, between the River Neet and Bude Canal.

The proposals focus on the renewal of the flood defence along Ergue-Gaberic Way. This work includes the construction of a new flood wall on the landward face of the bank behind the existing roadside kerb.

The construction of the wall will require the removal of some of the roadside-facing existing bank and vegetation on the bank to facilitate the construction of the wall foundations. On completion of the construction along Ergue-Gaberic Way, the top of the bank will be replanted with a selection of native plant species to help improve habitat. The earth flood embankment to the rear of the tourist information centre will also be restored and maintenance access improved.

The river restoration element of the project focuses on the River Neet upstream of Bude between Whalesbourough Weir and Pethericks Mill Nature Reserve. The Water Framework Directive is a European directive which aims to protect and improve the water environment. Under the directive, the River Neet currently has moderate ecological potential, with a requirement to achieve good ecological potential by 2027.

Measures to improve the status of the watercourse have previously been considered and investigated by the River Restoration Centre. These include in-channel enhancements such as narrowing and creating pinch points, as well as tree planting, which will encourage channel morphological diversity and improvements in habitat quality for a range of species, primarily fish. As part of this element of the project, these mitigation measures will be implemented along this reach of the channel to help increase the ecological potential of the watercourse.


  • spring/summer 2021: ecological surveys carried out at the flood defence sites and the river restoration area
  • autumn 2021: potential start on river restoration works (dependent on the outcome of ecological surveys)
  • January 2022: construction starts on Ergue-Gaberic flood wall
  • spring 2022: construction starts on the flood embankment behind the tourist information centre

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