Agriculture: Flood Control

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs written question – answered on 14th November 2022.

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Photo of Christopher Pincher Christopher Pincher Conservative, Tamworth

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, whether any (a) financial incentive and (b) other support is available to farmers for clearing (i) drainage ditches and (ii) storm drains with the aim of reducing flood risk on (A) their land, (B) public land and (C) community areas.

Photo of Rebecca Pow Rebecca Pow The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

All farmers and land managers are encouraged to manage the land in a way that supports and enhances the environment whilst reducing impacts on others, such as climate risks.

Where this is a watercourse, they are known as riparian landowners and are required, under common law, to keep the watercourse clear of anything which could cause an obstruction to the flow of water on their land, or downstream if washed away. This includes maintenance of the bed and banks, as well as any trees or shrubs growing on the banks. They must also ensure that any structures such as culverts, trash screens, and mill gates are cleared of debris and allow the flow of water.

In addition, landowners and/or occupiers owe a duty of care to their neighbours, undertaking those works that readily lie within their capability and their means to limit any potential flood impact on neighbouring land or buildings. In some circumstances the beneficiaries of any work may be reasonably expected to contribute towards the costs.

HM Government is introducing 3 new schemes that reward environmental land management: the Sustainable Farming Incentive, Local Nature Recovery and Landscape Recovery schemes. Through these schemes, farmers and other land managers will be supported to improve the environment and help manage environmental hazards, such as flood risk.

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