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Environment Environment

Improve natural flood management

Last updated: 02:10pm 15 January 2019

We will deliver on our commitment to improve natural flood management, such as improving the quality of water courses to protect against soil erosion and damage to vulnerable habitats and communities.

Conservative Party Manifesto 2017, p.26

Our verdict

Rising numbers of extreme weather events have led to an increase in severe flooding over the past decade, with the Environment Agency warning in February 2018 that “intense bouts of flooding are set to become more frequent”.

This policy promise to “improve natural flood management” mentions improving the quality of water courses (brooks, streams or artificial water channels) as one possible strategy for dealing with the growing likelihood of regular flooding.

In early 2017, the government announced a £1 million competition to increase natural flood management. Shortly after the election, in July 2017, 34 community-led projects were announced as winners, including plans to build new landscape features and plant more trees. The competition used part of a £15 million fund for natural flood management schemes, initially announced in March 2017, which is being used for 24 “catchment-scale” projects, many of which are now well under way.

On top of those government-funded initiatives, new farming rules for water were introduced on 2 April 2018 which require farmers to take “precautions to prevent soil loss caused by horticultural and farming activities”.

Increased investment in this area and new rules for farmers enforced by the Environment Agency are evidence of attempts to fulfil this pledge. We’ll keep monitoring for evidence to decide whether improvements in flood management occur as a result, but for now we can certainly say this is ‘in progress’.  Stay tuned for further developments!

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