FLAG Press Release re: Joining up the catchment

Release date: 2/10/2015

It is time to start thinking about what we can do to tackle the sources of flooding from land and urban areas upstream. This is critical to protecting not only the Levels from flooding, but also towns and villages throughout Somerset. 
It is Important we think of flood risk across the County, for everyones safety, prosperity and wellbeing. 
Every farm and every stream has a part to play in water and flood management in Somerset. Farming lies at the heart of Somerset’s rural economy, employing 10,000 residents and worth in the region of £200m per annum.  To maximise the potential for land management to contribute to the overall enhancement of the catchments, by reducing flood risk and soil erosion, improving water quality and environmental management. There is need for an expansion of the existing farm advice and support package to assist and encourage land managers with making the necessary changes.
FLAG are happy to hear that a partnership, led by The Royal Bath & West Society (RB & W) with the Somerset Wildlife Trust (SWT) and the Farming and Wildlife Advisory Group – South West (FWAG-SW) were awarded £750,000 at the People’s Postcode Lottery Gala Dinner for the Somerset Levels Dream Fund project ‘Taming the Levels’.
The award will help fund the natural land management element of the Flood Action Plan - work in the upper catchment to slow the flow of water as well as measures in the lower catchment to allow the floodplains to contribute to the reduction of flood risk to homes and key infrastructure, whilst providing a range of additional benefits to the very special biodiversity that is on the Levels.
Edwin White, Chairman of the Somerset Levels Development Fund, said: "Our Somerset Levels Dream Fund project will help reduce the extent of damaging flooding such as we have seen in recent years by reducing water flowing from the upper to the lower catchments on the Somerset Levels and helping support a thriving, resilient wetland landscape. This will help protect this unique environment as well as the homes and livelihoods of the communities who live and work on the Levels."
Ben Thorne from FWAG-SW and Edwin White have been been visiting potential sites for the project. Now that the money is in place it means that projects that been identified can now start in earnest.
FLAG recently visited a similar scheme run by the National Trust at Holnicote. This project, last winter reduced peak flow in the rivers by 12%. This was enough to stop any of the village houses flooding - it was touch and go at one stage but they remained dry during a very wet winter. If schemes like this can be rolled out over the upper catchment - the reduction in run-off will be extremely beneficial to the people in the lower catchment.

Bryony Sadler from FLAG, by the River Parrett aty Burrowbridge, wearing the new #SlowtheFlow hoody.

Slow the flow projects are a very important part of the overall management of water in the catchment. This is why the Somerset Rivers Authority is so important, every stream, every field has a roll to play. It also shows why we need fairer funding for flood management for the County, should we really be having to rely on lottery funding to implement projects so critical to land management?
Lower Catchment: #DredgetheRivers  |  Upper Catchment:  #SlowtheFlow  |   Somerset: #JoininguptheCatchment

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Notes to Editors:

1. FLAG Somerset - Flooding on the Levels Action Group. Please find out more by visiting http://www.flagsomerset.org.uk or join our Facebook group at http://www.facebook.com/groups/FLAGsomerset

2. Follow us on twitter @dredgetherivers

3. For more information or to contact us please email pressofficer@flagsomerset.org.uk

4. For further information (media enquiries only) please contact: David Hirst, Natural England press officer: 0300 0601720 or 0782 7821679 david.hirst@naturalengland.org.uk