THE flood defence scheme in the hills above Pickering is attracting international attention.

Visitors from as far afield as Japan and Hungary have recently visited the Slowing the Flow site to learn more about natural flood defences and how they might work in their own countries.

Slowing the Flow is a project which established a quantity of woody dams, as well as a larger earth bund, in the streams which feed into the Pickering beck.

Ryedale District councillor Mike Potter said he had shown the more remote measures, high in the catchment in Cropton forest, to a visiting economics professor from Keio University in Tokyo.

Cllr Potter said: “Ayumi Onuma is heavily involved in trying to influence the Japanese government to adopt ‘green infrastructure’ in addition to the massive ‘grey infrastructure’ currently being built to defend coastal areas against future tsunamis.”

He added he and the Forestry Commission had also had a visit from a large Hungarian delegation, including officials from the Ministry of the Interior and a host of regional civic leaders, led by two people from the World Wildlife Fund.

“They are looking to introduce natural flood measures for flood, ecology, social and drought benefits,” he said.

In addition to the seven-year-old existing measures, which Cllr Potter admits are beginning to age, the Forestry Commission is beginning preparations to trial the strictly controlled, monitored and enclosed reintroduction of eight beavers in the area to further prevent water flashing off the hills into the settlements below.

It is understood that beavers would create a network of dams which would slow water flow - and establish a variety of different aquatic habitats - at no cost to taxpayers.

Cllr Potter said that the plans are “well-advanced”.