Farmers invited to bid for £40,000 of flood control funding

Farmers in Somerset have the chance to bid for a share of £40,000 to fund natural methods to tackle flooding on their land.

Somerset Rivers Authority (SRA) and the Environment Agency will offer the grants for hedge planting, better maize management and grassland subsoiling and slitting, as well as other natural methods to help reduce flooding.

Subsoiling and slitting help aerate the ground to allow more rainwater to filter in, while also improving the soil.

See also: Farmers invited to have say on flood management

The purpose of natural flood management (NFM) in Somerset is to slow the flow of water down through the higher parts of river catchments, so farmers cannot place bids for land in low-lying Internal Drainage Board areas, or in areas that drain out the county.

Farmers can bid in the online auction from Wednesday 18 March to Monday 30 March. They will be asked to choose the NFM methods and select areas of their land where they believe those methods will get the best flood-prevention results.

Farming and Wildlife Advisory Group South West, which is also involved in the initiative, will then check the bids, with the grants given to the best, most competitively priced ideas.

Maize management

John Quick, who farms between West Monkton and Clavelshay, secured a grant in last year’s auction for better maize management.

He said: “The online auction was really quick and easy to use and allowed us to achieve a lot with our maize ground, without all the paperwork of other environmental schemes.”

Last year, 200 bids were successful and Cllr David Hall, SRA chairman, said farmers have an important role in implementing NFM measures across Somerset.

“One of the key points recognised in Somerset’s 20-year flood action plan, which was drawn up during the major floods of 2014, is that what happens on the land is really important.

“Every field, farm, and stream has a part to play when it comes to managing water,” Mr Hall said.

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