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Flood Control: Land

Volume 477: debated on Thursday 12 June 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (1) what funding his Department makes available to land owners to assist them in pursuing land management practices which contribute to flood defences; (208584)

(2) if he will provide agri-environment payments for land owners to incentivise land management practices which contribute to flood defences.

Environmental Stewardship, the agri-environment scheme funded through the Rural Development Programme for England, has flood management as a secondary objective, in support of its five primary objectives for wildlife, landscape, resource protection, the historic environment and access. The scheme does not fund flood management measures but can support complementary measures, such as the creation of water meadows and ditch restoration. During the application approval process, Natural England is advised by the Environment Agency as to whether there are any flood management benefits to the application, but the critical deciding factor will be whether the proposal meets the primary objectives.

The Environment Agency's catchment flood management plans identify areas where changes in land management may have a beneficial impact on flood risk and Natural England can use this information to help target higher level stewardship (HLS) funding. In deciding which HLS schemes to fund, Natural England has to take into account the full range of scheme objectives, and proposals which only deliver flood management benefits are less likely to be funded than those which deliver multiple objectives.

In cases where flood risk is an issue but HLS is not available the Environment Agency may use the flood management budget to take appropriate action. Any such scheme would need to be prioritised along with all other competing flood management projects.