£500k for flood prevention projects

Half a million pounds of funding has been made available for pilot projects looking at how natural features such as wetlands could reduce flood risk.

Landowners are being urged to apply for the cash, which will fund up to two projects investigating how land management can prevent flooding.

It follows the publication of Sir Michael Pitt’s review of last summer’s floods, which argued that traditional flood defences are not always appropriate or cost effective.

Environment Secretary Hilary Benn announced the funding at the Royal Show, in Warwickshire.

He said: “We can never fully eliminate the risk of flooding, but we are working to ensure that we are better prepared to deal with future events.

“This initiative will not only improve our knowledge about how we can best deal with flooding, it will also help look at how we can improve our biodiversity at a local level at the same time.”

The projects will work alongside existing schemes in the Environmental Stewardship programme, which is managed by Natural England.

Sir Martin Doughty, chair of Natural England said: “By increasing the natural capacity of our environment to absorb and hold excess water, we can help to reduce the effects of excess rainfall.

“In addition to reducing flood risk this will have huge benefits for biodiversity and carbon storage.”

The Wetland Vision Partnership, an alliance of conservationists and Government agencies including the RSPB, the Environment Agency and Natural England, called for the creation and restoration of wetlands in England.

Project manager Carrie Hume said; “In the right places, wetlands offer natural flood water storage and improved water quality, lock away huge amounts of carbon, provide havens for wildlife and fantastic places for people to visit and enjoy.”

However, speakers at this year’s World Wetlands Day Conference in February had warned of the dangers for biodiversity if wetlands are used to manage flood risk.

Landowners have until August 29 to submit project proposals. More information can be found here.

Kate Martin

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