SRA End of Year Report 2016-17: Land Management – Workstream 2
Somerset Rivers Authority funds natural flood management activities that benefit roads, villages and towns – and improve the environment for people and wildlife. Every field, every farm, every stream has a part to play in holding water for as long as possible in upper and middle catchments to protect communities and businesses lower down.
There were three main strands to this workstream in 2016-17: capital grants offered to farmers and landowners for projects that ‘Slow the Flow’ of water and reduce flooding risks across the county; ‘highways referrals’ in areas that feed into the Levels and Moors – that is, looking for answers to highway flooding problems in better management of land nearby; and highways referrals in West Somerset.
Natural flood management capital grants
Achieved – In 2016-17, the SRA drew on £550,000 of Growth Deal money from the Heart of the SW Local Enterprise Partnership to fund nearly 50 schemes across Somerset.
Locations included: West Somerset – Brompton Ralph, Combe Sydenham; Taunton Deane – Bishop’s Lydeard, Croford, Fitzhead, Halse, Milverton, Oake, Pitminster, Poundisford, Staple Fitzpaine, Staplegrove, West Buckland; South Somerset – Ilminster, South Petherton, Donyatt, Martock, Crewkerne, Curry Mallet, Norton sub Hamdon, Hamhill Country Park, Stoney Stoke, Tintinhull; Sedgemoor – Goathurst, Aisholt Common; Mendip – Launcherley.
Highways referrals in West Somerset
The SRA funded 57 extra investigations in West Somerset. There was great demand for this service and in February 2017 the Board agreed more funding, to enable work to continue and be completed. Achieved: Locations included Bilbrook, Brushford, Carhampton, Dulverton, Horner, Luxborough, Minehead , Monksilver, Nettlecombe, Porlock, Roadwater, Selworthy, Stogumber, Stogursey, Washford, West Luccombe and Williton.
The SRA gave the RSPB a grant to explore the possibility of setting up a Payments for Ecosystem Services Biomass to Bioenergy scheme within the Avalon Marshes. Achieved: The bulk of this work was done in 2015-16, and was completed in 2016 with the production of items such as a ‘Draft Code of Practice for the Land Manager Model to supply large-scale anaerobic digestion plants’ and the assessment of a new case study in the southern Levels & Moors where biomass to bioenergy could be trialled.
Sowy / King’s Sedgemoor Drain (KSD) – mapping scenarios & engagement
In April 2015, in partnership with Hills to Levels, the SRA used CLG money to commission the RSPB to engage one-to-one with farmers and landowners who could be affected by proposed improvements to the Sowy/King’s Sedgemoor Drain system. Achieved: A report produced in 2016 detailed meetings with 27 farmers. Findings covered the Sowy/KSD, the resilient nature of grasslands, payment systems and the use of floodplains. Many farmers volunteered their belief that it was better for flood waters to cover their land on floodplains than enter people’s houses.