Farmers in the River Tone and River Parrett catchments within Somerset will soon be able to bid online for public money for works to help stop flooding.
A new online auction system called NaturEtrade NFM is to be tried out this summer by the Farming and Wildlife Advisory Group SouthWest, the Environment Agency, and Natural England. Natural flood management (NFM) measures such as hedge-planting, woody dams, and leaky ponds will be fundedby Somerset Rivers Authority as part of the award-winning Hills to Levels project. The SRA’s aim is to help deliver the Land Management stream of Somerset’s 20 Year Flood Action Plan, drawn up during the devastating floods of 2013-14.
More generally, all partners want to explore new ways and means of paying farmers to deliver public benefits, in preparation for Brexit and consequent changes to agricultural subsidies.
Cllr John Osman, Chair of Somerset Rivers Authority, said: “Somerset is leading the way nationally in pioneering natural flood management which helps to slow the flow of water down from the higher parts of river catchments.
“The new online auction system that’s being trialled is easy to use and very interesting. I urge all farmers living in the Tone and Parrett catchments to take a look, and take part. Use your local knowledge, tell us what you’d like to do to help reduce flood risks and we’ll fund the best, most competitively-priced ideas.”
Farmers in the Tone and Parrett catchments within Somerset can register for the NaturEtrade NFM auction from Monday 23 July at https://nfmea.sylva.org.uk/.
The auction will run until Sunday 12 August. A map on the auction site shows the exact eligible catchment areas.
Funding is available for six natural flood management measures: maize management, grassland sub-soiling, leaky structures, hedge planting, soil bunds and leaky ponds, and hedge planting on bunds.
If the auction is successful, it will help to shape future support for sustainable farming and food production. It is designed to test a more flexible and farmer-driven approach to delivering outcomes of public benefit, such as cleaner water, more sustainable soils, increased biodiversity, and carbon storage.