Wildlife experts are calling on the Government to invest more in nature friendly flood prevention methods that control the speed at which rainwater reaches rivers.

Yorkshire Wildlife Trust wants to increase the ability of upstream land to store water so that it does not run off the hills in large quantities and flood areas downstream.

The York-based trust’s chief executive, Dr Rob Stoneman, said: “In the past couple of months we have seen floodwaters being stored in people’s homes and businesses – a hugely expensive and upsetting consequence of the extreme weather events and poor planning in some areas. It is clear to everyone that this is not the right way forward.”

One solution would be to create more sites such as the trust’s Potteric Carr Nature Reserve in South Yorkshire, a wetland site which takes floodwater from the River Torne that would otherwise flood nearby Doncaster.

“The application of this sort of solution across the country could help reduce the impact of flooding in years to come, whilst having the added benefit of providing habitat for our treasured wildlife,” he said.

He warned that dredging rivers was not a complete solution and could contribute to more serious flooding downstream.

He was speaking as a report on water management was released by the Chartered Institute of Water Engineers. In north York, Clifton Ings are maintained as grazing land and a wildlife habitat that can be deliberately flooded to reduce the level of the River Ouse in the city.