Sector - Environment

£25M for natural flood management

Forty projects, which will use natural processes such as planting trees and creating wetlands to reduce the risk of flooding, are set to benefit from a £25M government programme.

The projects are part of the government’s plan to increase the nation’s flood resilience, natural flood management processes protect, restore, and mimic the natural functions of catchments, floodplains and the coast to slow and store water.

Community, charity and council projects set to benefit from the Natural Flood Management programme include:

  • Severn Rivers Trust will carry out a mixture of natural flood management measures in the headwaters of Illey Brook, near Halesowen in the West Midlands. Many of these works will focus on soil and land management – slowing and storing surface water runoff, while also reducing soil erosion and supporting agriculture. New woodland areas and hedgerows will support wetland complexes and the creation of new habitats.
  • The Ribble Rivers Trust has proposed a number of projects focusing on slowing river flows across the Ribble catchment, in Darwen, Clitheroe and Lea Green. Swales, ponds and leaky barriers across watercourses will slow and store floodwater in the upper reaches of the River Darwen catchment, whilst vegetation management and new woodland will intercept the flow of water as it runs downhill, reducing runoff and enabling water to be stored in the soil.

The announcement comes after a wide range of applications were submitted to the Environment Agency by community groups, environmental charities and councils for grants, following the launch of the largest-ever investment in natural flood management schemes in September last year.  The Environment Agency led a review of these applications, with input from Defra and Natural England.

Environment Agency chair Alan Lovell said: “It’s exciting to see such appetite for Natural Flood Management, recognising its value in providing not only benefits against flood risk but also wider support for nature recovery.

“I’m proud of the role the Environment Agency is playing in leading this pioneering programme. We look forward to working with partners to help natural techniques become a mainstream option for flood protection and help create more climate resilient places.”

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

The Environment Agency is managing the new £25M programme with work taking place from now until March 2027.

The programme will help meet the goals of the National Flood and Coastal Erosion Risk Management Strategy for England, 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.

It also supports the Government Policy Statement on Flood and Coastal Erosion Management, which highlights the importance of harnessing the power of nature, and the Environmental Improvement Plan, which recognises the need to mitigate and adapt to climate change with the use of nature-based solutions. Investing in natural flood management will support the government’s plan to better protect communities while tackling climate change and benefitting nature.