Defra confirms £25m boost for nature-based flood management solutions

The UK Government's Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) has unveiled a £25m funding programme to support dozens of projects centred around natural processes, in bid to mitigate the risk of flooding and enhance the nation's resilience to climate change.

Defra confirms £25m boost for nature-based flood management solutions

The Environment Agency is set to manage the new £25m programme.

Natural flood management involves implementing measures that protect, restore and replicate the natural functions of catchments, floodplains and coastlines to mitigate flooding and store water.

Defra claims that the £25m package is its largest focused on natural flood management to date.

The funding initiative received submissions from community groups, environmental charities and councils, which underwent review by the Environment Agency, in consultation with Defra and Natural England.

Among the beneficiaries of this funding, the Severn Rivers Trust will focus on implementing a variety of natural flood management measures in the headwaters of Illey Brook, near Halesowen in the West Midlands.

These measures include soil and land management to slow and store surface water runoff, reduce soil erosion and support agricultural practices. Additionally, the project aims to create new woodland areas and hedgerows to bolster wetland complexes and provide habitats for local wildlife.

Similarly, the Ribble Rivers Trust, another beneficiary, plans to implement projects aimed at mitigating flood risks across the Ribble catchment, encompassing areas in Darwen, Clitheroe, and Lea Green.

Measures such as constructing swales, ponds and leaky barriers along watercourses. These will be designed to slow and store floodwater, while vegetation management and afforestation will intercept water flow, reducing runoff and facilitating water retention in the soil.

Floods Minister Robbie Moore said: “It’s vital we use nature as an ally in our work to become ready for climate change, helping to restore the natural environment and protecting homes and businesses.

“That’s why we’re funding the biggest-ever investment in natural flood management – and it’s great to see the huge demand.”

The initiative builds on the £15m natural flood management pilot programme, which ran until 2021, creating the equivalent of 1.6 million cubic meters of water storage and reducing flood risk for 15,000 homes.

The Environment Agency is set to manage the new £25m programme, with projects slated to take place from now until March 2027.

The programme aligns with the goals outlined in the National Flood and Coastal Erosion Risk Management Strategy for England, which aims to better protect homes and businesses from flooding and coastal changes, while also creating climate-resilient communities.

This announcement comes on the heels of research warning that the annual damage caused by flooding in the UK could surge by more than 20% if national pledges to achieve net-zero, made at COP26, are not fully met.

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