National Flooding Strategy: the importance of agricultural land “cannot be ignored”

12 July 2019

The CLA has urged the Government to consider the strategic importance of land when it comes to the introduction of new measures to protect areas at risk of flooding in England.

The association, which represents farmers, landowners and rural businesses, argues that agricultural land should be assessed not only in terms of its financial value, but also for its key role producing food for the nation and responding to climate change.

The CLA also highlighted the devastating impact flooding can have on individual farms, where it can wreck harvests and damage livestock, buildings and equipment.

In its formal response to the Environment Agency’s draft National Flood and Coastal Erosion Risk Management Strategy consultation the CLA also argued that:

  • farmers and landowners should be encouraged and empowered to undertake flood management maintenance on their own land;
  • Environmental Land Management Schemes (ELMS) should be used to incentivise natural flood management, for example by planting trees or allowing a natural river bend to re-establish itself, but that there must be sufficient long-term funding for this; and
  • the focus should be on long-term resilience, as well as immediate flood response and recovery.

CLA Midlands regional director Mark Riches said: “While must attention is understandably paid to urban areas, we cannot ignore the strategic importance of agricultural land. This is why we have reiterated our call for a common-sense approach that empowers landowners to devise, build and manage flood management schemes to protect their own livelihoods as well as reducing the flood risk to neighbouring land and properties. This would have the considerable benefit of releasing resources for the Environment Agency to support flood and coastal resilience in other areas at risk.

“As part of the wider discussions on delivering public goods, there is an opportunity to use a future ELMS scheme to support natural flood management whether planting trees, allowing a natural river bend to re-establish itself or encouraging peatland and saltmarshes.”