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A couple of years ago, during a spell of wet weather, I was walking along Lavender Hill in Enfield between the top end of Chase Side and Gordon Hill Station. On the northern side of the road there's an area of grass which slopes up towards a group of 1970s apartment blocks, the Four Hills Estate. The ground was saturated and rainwater had run down the slope and completely flooded the path leading to the flats and the pavement on that side and was more than half way across the carriageway. In order to walk past on the other side of the road without getting spattered from head to toe in muddy water, I had to wait for a suitably long gap in the traffic - most drivers made no attempt to slow down or avoid the water. I saw people living in the flats walking across the grass with their feet completely immersed.

Which is why when today I came across a film about a new Sustainable Urban Drainage Scheme (SUDS for short) recently completed by Enfield Council, I immediately realised where it was and why it had been needed. The scheme has not only provided dry walking routes for residents, but has also improved their whole environment and boosted the sense of community.

four hills resident because its so attractive now we tend to spend a lot more time outside"Because it's so attractive now, we tend to spend a lot more time outside"

SUDS, "rain gardens", "swales" and, on a larger scale, urban wetlands like those at Firs Farm and in Broomfield Park are an enlightened way of dealing with some of the challenges that nature has always posed to our (ultimately vain) attempts to control the natural world. It's a pity that it took so long for planners to realise that what you might call their "command and control" methods of imposing their will on nature - using impermeable paving and channelling water into narrow and fast-flowing concrete-lined channels - are precisely the opposite of what is needed, because when torrential downpours become more intense and more frequent, which they will because of climate change, these pitiful attempts to show who's in charge will fail with unpleasant and sometimes disastrous consequences.

Time too that something was done about all the front gardens that have been paved over and just add to the water washing toxic materials off road surfaces and into streams and rivers. You can still have car parking in your front garden but use types of surfacing that allow rainwater to soak away.

Whatever your opinion of Enfield Council's policies in various regards, I think that we can all be impressed by their commitment to implementing these modern and enlightened measures, which are not only effective in reducing flooding and river pollution, but also make places pleasanter and more people-friendly, as is evident from the video. (Though this didn't stop another local newsletter editor from suggesting that the council had a hidden anti-driver agenda for installing the rain gardens in Woodland Way, at a dip in the road where flooding is a problem.)

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