Farmers and scientists to debate natural flood management

Sunset over flooded fields near York_31900

A seminar organised by the NFU will debate the degree to which natural management can help mitigate against the impacts of flood events.

Held jointly with the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, ‘Science behind Natural Flood Management’ takes place in central London on Thursday (June 30).

Speakers will come from the farming community, Defra, the Environment Agency, the Natural Environment Research Council, CEH, Oxford University, Southampton University, Newcastle University and environmental, engineering and risk group JBA Consulting.

NFU Deputy President Minette Batters, who will chair the seminar, said: “Ahead of the expected publication of key government reports such as the National Flood Resilience Review this seminar is very relevant and timely. We are pleased to be working with CEH to assess the science and evidence base and how this can be used to influence policy and decision-making.

“The flooding experienced at the end of last year was devastating for many communities, particularly in northern England. Many of our members were affected by the storm damage, as well as the floods, leaving gravel and debris deposits, as well as damage to land, property and buildings.

“The NFU believes that we need to have a plan for flood risk management at a catchment level and that we must use and fund all tools in our toolbox, whether that is de-silting, vegetation management, engineered flood defences or natural flood management techniques, where appropriate.

“Natural flood management solutions need to work for farming and for the environment and where farmers provide a service in mitigating flood risk to help protect others they do need to be fairly compensated. We hope the day will help to highlight where further scientific research is needed into the mitigation potential of natural flood management schemes.”

Professor Alan Jenkins, Deputy Director of the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, said: “Widespread flooding across northern Britain in December 2015 left over 5,000 homes inundated and 43,000 without power. Much of the subsequent political and media attention focused on whether natural solutions can help reduce floods and reduce the devastating impacts on the nation’s infrastructure.

“There is still much to learn about the effectiveness of natural flood management techniques. For this reason scientists at the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology are currently working on a systematic review examining whether river floods are reduced by the use of natural flood management mechanisms, such as the presence of trees. Our work on this independent evidence assessment is being carried out with staff from many of the organisations present at this timely seminar.  The outcomes will support decision and policy makers, including farmers, and help guide the UK’s future research activity in this area.”

  • ‘Science behind Natural Flood Management’ takes place on Thursday (June 30) at Sixty One Whitehall, London, SW1A 2ET. If you would like to attend please contact Mike Thomas in the NFU press office on 024 76 858662 or email bWlrZS50aG9tYXNAbmZ1Lm9yZy51aw==