15 June 2001

Flooded land would help communities

MORE farmland in East Anglia should be allowed to flood to help protect downstream communities and create new wetland habitats, says the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds.

It has welcomed a report from English Nature, the Governments wildlife agency, which calls for farmers to be paid up to £300/ha a year to allow their land to flood.

The report, Sustainable Flood Defence: The Case for Washlands, suggests that more land be used to hold-up floodwater instead of allowing it to run down rivers.

English Nature says the new washlands would not only be effective in preventing floods but would create new wetland wildlife habitat.

It suggests that washlands need to be incorporated into new flood defence policies, such as those affecting the Norfolk and Suffolk Broads and the River Ouse basin.

Rob Lucking, of the RSPBs East Anglian office, said: "It is an economic way of minimising flood risks in some areas and is more sustainable than building hard defences near communities." &#42