New funding opportunity for natural flood management projects

29 September 2023

Environment and climate
A picture of flooded fields

The EA (Environment Agency) and Defra have announced £25 million in funding for improving flood resilience through a new NFM (natural flood management) programme.

Farmers, land managers and landowners are among those encouraged by the EA and Defra to apply for funding.

NFM uses natural processes to reduce the risk of flooding. Measures used protect, restore, and mimic the natural functions of catchments, floodplains and the coast to slow and store water and dissipate wave energy.

The programme aims to:

  • reduce local flood risk using NFM;
  • provide wider benefits to the environment, nature and society;
  • accelerate new and existing opportunities for NFM delivery and financing;
  • further improve evidence of NFM by filling knowledge gaps.

What is funded?

The new programme will provide funding for projects that carry out one or more of the 14 NFM measures listed below:

River and floodplain management Woodland management Run-off management Coast and estuary management
River restoration Catchment woodland Soil and land management Saltmarsh and mudflat management
Floodplain/wetland restoration Cross-slope woodland Headwater drainage management Sand dune management
Leaky barriers Floodplain woodland Run-off pathway management Beach nourishment
Offline storage areas Riparian woodland    

The programme will pay for the following project costs:

  • development;
  • project management;
  • monitoring and capital costs.

It will not pay for future and on-going maintenance. The EA suggests that one way of funding ongoing maintenance could be through ELMs (Environmental Land Management scheme), but other sources of funding could be used.

How to apply

Applications are open until 10 November 2023.

For further information and to get an application pack, email the EA at [email protected].

The lead applicant needs to be based in England and the project needs to demonstrate a flood risk benefit in England, but partners and benefits of the project can extend into Wales and Scotland.

The NFM programme guidance and the NFM prospectus explain more about the application process.

Environment Agency application support

The Environment Agency will:

  • offer support during the application phase via webinars and individual help.
  • offer support during the assessment phase in calculating flood risk benefits.

The successful projects will be announced in 2024. Work on these projects will take place between 2024 and 31 March 2027.

Check the terms before signing up to any agreement

It is important that landowners and land managers ensure that they fully understand the nature of any agreement being entered into and consider whether the agreement in question is right for their specific situation.

For more information on environmental markets see the NFU article ‘Environmental Markets - Are they right for you?’

Help for NFU Members

NFU members can obtain free initial legal and professional advice from NFU CallFirst on 0370 845 8458.

Members also have access to the NFU Legal Panel who can advise in more detail on the specific contents of individual agreements.

The NFU's contract checking service enables NFU members to claim up to £250 towards the costs of having a contract checked by one of the Panel Firms (up to a maximum of four contract per member per year). The NFU’s panel firms also offer a 12.5% discount on their hourly rate to NFU members in relation to work affecting their farming and growing business.

Other things to consider when making an application:

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