In July 2022, the Government announced their £100 million frequently flooded fund to support communities that have experienced repeated flooding but have been unable to secure all of the funding necessary to progress their schemes. My hon. Friend will be pleased to hear that his scheme has been approved, and full details will be with him and all those involved in his scheme in Shipley next week.
I am extremely grateful to the Minister for that. She will know that I lobbied hard for the establishment of this frequently flooded fund for my constituents who regularly get flooded but never met the previous criteria. Clearly, I await next week’s announcement with great anticipation, but if not every part of my constituency has been successful in that bid, can the Minister confirm that this is not a one-off fund but an annual fund, and that any area that misses out this time might have an opportunity to be successful in future rounds?
Yes, my hon. Friend was a doughty campaigner in raising this issue of frequently flooded communities. As I went around the country when communities unfortunately experienced flooding, it was clear that a number of those communities fell out of being able to access the funding, so I assure him that £20 million is going out in this first tranche. Letters will be sent out shortly, with further details next week. This money—this particular £100 million—has been ringfenced, and I give all credit to my hon. Friend for the part he played in highlighting this issue.
The Minister will know that one way of preventing flooding downstream in urban areas is to try to deal with natural watercourses: rewinding, planting more trees and so on. There are other nature-based solutions that would be appropriate in Somerset, which she is very familiar with. Could she tell us what the Department is doing to try to introduce some of those solutions?
I thank the hon. Lady very much for that question, which touches on so many parts of DEFRA’s portfolio: tackling flooding, water quality, biodiversity—we can get all of that by re-meandering rivers. The Environment Agency has already spent £15 million on natural flood management schemes. There is a lot of work going on, and indeed, natural flood management schemes can be part of applications for the frequently flooded fund.