The 20 Year Flood Action Plan was celebrating a £100,000 boost for crucial work to encourage natural flood management on the Somerset Levels and Moors, following recent awards to two of its partner organisations from the Prince’s Countryside Fund.
The Royal Bath & West Society (RB & W) was awarded £50,000 which will go hand in hand with £50,000 also awarded to the Farming and Wildlife Advisory Group South West (FWAG SW), which co-ordinates land management projects for the Flood Action Plan.
Now the funds can be used as a crucial first stage for developing an advice and support package throughout the Levels and Moors catchment, to encourage land use that stops or slows water from entering river courses and maximises natural flood management.
It will also be the preliminary work to enable a £550,000 award from the Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) announced last year for the Flood Action Plan’s Land Management work, to be used for small scale capital works on farms to hold water back.
Councillor John Osman, Chairman of the Flood Action Plan Leaders Implementation Group and Leader of Somerset County Council, said: “The support of FWAG SW and the RB & W in bidding for and winning these awards, and the generosity of the Prince’s Countryside Fund, is greatly valued. Many funding streams are about capital work projects but vital preliminary work needs funding too, and these awards are crucial.”
Edwin White, Chairman of the RB & W Somerset Levels Development Fund said: “We’re delighted to receive this grant from the Princes Countryside Fund, a real endorsement of our work from such an established organisation.
Our mission at the RB&W is to develop agriculture, grow the rural economy and protect the environment and through our leadership of the Somerset Levels Development Fund we feel that this project delivers a truly integrated programme that will benefit all who live and work on the Levels.”
The £50,000 also awarded by the Prince’s Countryside Fund to FWAG SW, to improve the viability of farming on the Somerset Moors and Levels, includes amongst other initiatives, initial work to encourage land management practices that stop or slow water entering the rivers.
Ann Langdon, Senior Advisor for FWAG SW, said: “This money will enable us to work with farmers with land above the Levels, to increase the water holding capacity of their soils – which will help reduce flooding down on the Levels. It will also enable us to continue work looking at ways to increase grassland resilience in areas which flood.”
Once further funding is secured for the Flood Action Plan work, an integrated practical advice and support package will be provided to land managers by specialist advisors, enabling them to introduce natural land and flood management practices throughout the catchment.
The awards to the RB & W and FWAG SW are part of £650,000 from the Prince’s Countryside Fund for investment in rural initiatives to find the farmers of the future, improve rural livelihoods and create thriving rural communities.