17 April 2001
Pay farmers to flood land – report

By David Green

FARMERS should be paid to flood their land to protect people living in towns and villages downstream, claim the governments wildlife advisers.

A report by English Nature, Sustainable Flood Defence, suggests farmers who allow their land to be flooded should be paid 300 per hectare.

It suggests that more land should be used to hold up floodwater, instead of allowing it to run immediately down rivers and endanger residential areas.

English Nature officials are due to discuss the proposal at a meeting with junior agriculture minister Elliot Morley later this year.

The new washlands would not only be effective in preventing floods, but would create new wetland wildlife habitat, says the report.

This document says this will avoid the need for concrete flood defences elsewhere, and suggests the strategy is incorporated into forthcoming plans.

Clive Doarks, of English Natures Norfolk team, said: “Working with nature … will provide the most sustainable solution to flood management.”

Rob Lucking, East Anglian spokesman for the RSPB, said the society had been calling for the use of more washlands for some time.

“It is an economic way of minimising flood risks in some areas an is more sustainable than building hard defences near communities,” he said.