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Flooding strategy must serve both rural and urban areas to succeed

ADA welcomes the publication of the NFU’s Flooding Manifesto as a positive addition to the debate about future management and funding of flood and coastal risk.


Discussing watercourse management with local farmers – Welland and Deepings IDB, Lincolnshire

ADA welcomes the publication of the NFU’s Flooding Manifesto as a positive addition to the debate about future management and funding of flood and coastal risk. A robust, long-term plan is required to strategically manage flood risk in England and Wales, and ADA strongly supports more decisions being taken at local level to achieve this.

If rural areas are to play their fullest part in managing flood risk, sufficient time, effort and money must be invested in initiatives that engage local communities and land-managers, embracing a total catchment management approach. This approach will see flooding managed from source to sea, incorporating both innovative attenuation techniques, such as natural flood management and sustainable drainage systems, with existing and new flood defences and the appropriate management of watercourses, associated structures, and our coastal defences.

ADA recommends that all parties involved seize the opportunity to unlock the use of land to store flood water more sustainably in the future, whilst supporting profitable agriculture and rural business. This will require work to establish a consistent method for valuing land at today’s prices, and provide the basis to encourage and promote the use of land for public benefit, whilst ensuring that fair and consistent levels of compensation are paid when that land is flooded for public benefit.

ADA has been supporting local decision making in water and flood risk management across England and Wales, including:

  • Helping the Environment Agency to develop and roll out public sector cooperation agreements (PSCAs) that establish robust local partnerships between Risk Management Authorities wishing to undertake local maintenance works more cost effectively. Over fifty such agreements are now in place between authorities across England.
  • Assisting local stakeholders with the establishment of two new internal drainage boards in the South East of England (North Kent Marshes IDB and Pevensey & Cuckmere Water Level Management Board).
  • Engaging with Natural Resources Wales as they work to establish Advisory Groups made up of farmers and other representatives from the local community for the Internal Drainage Districts they manage across the country.
  • Continuing to advise on the formation of new IDBs in the North West of England and extension of existing IDBs in Yorkshire and East Anglia.
  • Advocating the Government to take an ‘invest to save’ approach to delivering the successful transfer of main rivers and water level management assets from the Environment Agency to InternalDrainage Boards and other local bodies where locally agreed.

To facilitate greater local decision making in flood and coastal risk management we hope that the Government will work to:

  • Support the delivery of 10 pilot projects identified by the Environment Agency to investigate the transfer of the management of main rivers to local delivery groups, including IDBs.
  • Develop a fair funding base for the flood and water management needs of local authorities as part of its reforms to local government finance.
  • Support local authorities in areas (such as Lancashire and Cumbria) where new IDBs can potentially deliver sustainable local funding and governance of water level management.
  • Develop a methodology with ADA and IDBs that utilises contemporary data to rate land within internal drainage districts.

Taking part in today’s launch of the NFU’s Flooding Manifesto, ADA’s Chief Executive Innes Thomson said, “I am pleased that farmers and landowners readily accept that they must play an increasingly important role in helping to control flood risk. If they are prepared to provide a public benefit at some expense to their income, then it is only fair that they should be appropriately recompensed for the benefit that they are providing to others “

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