We’re disappointed that this report overlooks the valuable contribution that natural processes can make to reducing flood risk.
We know from this experience that policy and funding should work with natural forces to slow water down, and use land upstream as a sponge to retain water. As we pointed out to the Committee, managing water ‘from source to sea’ in this way helps to avoid flood risks to communities downstream, in a cost effective way. Maintenance of flood defences and watercourses will always be a part of the solution, but we regret that the Committee has not considered the fuller picture of how flood risk for rural communities can be managed effectively.
Our own project to implement a range of natural flood management measures in the River Aller catchment at Holnicote in Somerset helped the villages of Allerford, Bossington and Horner avoid flooding this year – and has given local farmers a real stake in helping to manage flood risk for these villages.
During one winter rainfall event, and with a saturated catchment, these measures reduced the flood peak by 12%. The capital cost of the associated measures amounted to some £135,000,and the 90 properties protected have an insurance value of at least £30M. We are considering where we can work as a major landowner with the Environment Agency to look at catchment scale change as well as engaging with the Catchment based Approach.
Management of soils is also key to creating sustainable and resilient rural landscapes – this is also an area that would have benefitted from the committee’s attention.