Updated Sep 27, 2023

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£25 million for projects using nature to increase flood resilience

Environment Minister Rebecca Pow announced on the 22 September that £25 million will be invested in projects that use nature to protect communities from flooding.

The ring-fenced funding, provided by the Government and the Environment Agency, will support natural flood management schemes across England that use techniques such as planting trees and creating wetlands to slow and store water to reduce the risk of flooding. These schemes are also proven to:

  • improve air and water quality;
  • provide habitats for wildlife; and
  • create green spaces for communities.

Successful projects will cover a large enough area to provide demonstrable flood risk benefits.

This new funding builds on the £15 million natural flood management pilot programme which ran until 2021. Across the 60 pilot projects supported by this programme:

  • the equivalent of 1.6 million cubic metres of water storage was created;
  • 15,000 homes were better protected from flooding;
  • 4,000 hectares of habitat and 610 kilometres of river were improved;
  • 100 hectares of woodland were planted.

The funding supports the Government Policy Statement on Flood and Coastal Erosion Management, which highlights the importance of harnessing the power of nature. It also supports the Environment Agency's Flood and Coastal Erosion Risk Management Strategy, which provides a longer term vision of how we will better protect and prepare homes and businesses from flooding and coastal change, and create climate resilient places.

Investing in natural flood management will better protect communities while tackling climate change and benefitting nature.

Pow said: "Nature is an essential weapon in our armoury against flooding. Enhancing the natural landscape to slow rivers and hold flood water works hand-in-hand with the bricks and mortar protection we are building with our £5.2 billion flood programme".

"That is why we are driving investment to harness the power of nature. This approach not only reduces flood risk and helps tackle climate change, it can also benefit water quality, restore habitats and boost biodiversity. Natural flood management is a win-win-win".

Environment Agency Chair, Alan Lovell, said: "In the face of a changing climate, and with the frequency and severity of flooding only likely to get worse, we need to act now".

"The pioneers who already work with nature-based solutions to achieve greater flood resilience give me hope. I am delighted this new Natural Flood Management Programme will be open to environmental groups, catchment partnerships, farmers, landowners, and local authorities to speed up more investment in natural flood management".

"Natural flood management gives us so many wider benefits and I look forward to seeing projects coming forward that also help to create habitats for wildlife, support better river quality, and sequester carbon".

Projects supported by the £15 million pilot include:

  • the Dorking Natural Flood Management Scheme created "wet woodland" that benefits biodiversity and 30 "leaky barriers" that allow water to spill into the natural floodplain, stopping too much water flooding into Dorking;
  • in Warwickshire, Shipston Area Flood Action Group, a community-led volunteer team, reduced the risk of flooding for homes and businesses by using natural flood management across the River Stour, with more than 700 leaky barriers and ponds to slow the flow of water during heavy rainfall and reducing flood risk;
  • the South East Rivers Trust and the London Borough of Sutton worked in partnership to install sustainable urban drainage systems within six schools in the area, including gardens to absorb rain running off school buildings.

The new funding is available to:

  • environmental non-governmental organisations;
  • businesses;
  • farmers;
  • catchment partnerships;
  • flood risk management authorities; and
  • community groups.

Expressions of interest opened on 22 September 2023 and will close on 10 November 2023. Projects will be delivered during 2024 to 2027.

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