Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

We Should Pay Farmers to Protect Towns from the Deluge

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

We Should Pay Farmers to Protect Towns from the Deluge

Article excerpt

Byline: Tony Henderson Environment Editor

FARMERS and landowners in the North East should be a first line of defence in the battle against flooding, it is claimed. The Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) has called on the Government to provide incentives and encouragement to farmers to combat flooding.

RICS points out that the floods have inflicted more than PS20m worth of damage - and counting - to farms and rural businesses across the UK.

Claire Bainbridge, senior rural surveyor at land and estate agents George F White's base in Alnwick in Northumberland, said: "If farmers and estate owners knew that they could add real monetary value to their land by introducing flood management measures, it may well serve as an incentive to improve flood defences within the UK.

"North East farmers have the potential to offer a modern day ark that will protect people, properties and livestock from oncoming floods for many years to come. But they can only do this if Government commits the right level of funding and support in all areas, both urban and rural.

"A strategy as basic as planting more trees in upland areas can act as a buffer, slowing the downward flow of water which could have a significant impact on the likelihood of flooding occurring further downstream.

"Some floods can be caused by the saturation of upland soil. Rather than acting as a sponge, the wet soil accelerates the flow of water down to the towns and villages. By planting bog mosses in those upland areas, the ground may become more absorbent, reducing and slowing the volume of water that could potentially reach homes."

Such an approach to flood defence is known as Integrated Catchment Management (ICM) and RICS has asked the Environment Agency to work with farmers to adopt it.

The ICM approach works by managing the storage of flood water through the creation of ponds and ditches, by increasing soil absorption of water and by slowing the flow, potentially by channelling it by planting buffer strips of trees. …

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