Noel Farrer calls for integration with food and farming policy.

Former LI president Noel Farrer

The LI has responded to the government’s , published on 8 September.

Noel Farrer, former President of the Artas-ua.info Institute said: ‘Today’s National Flood Resilience Review calls on improvements in the control of rainfall in the natural environment through the management of whole river catchments effectively.  This is welcome but it still seems we are plagued by a lack of strategic, long term thinking.

‘The Government’s developing 25 Year Plan for the Environment for instance is still separate from its forthcoming 25 year Strategy on Food and Farming. This is a mistake, the two cannot be divorced.  What we need is both to be part of a National Rural Land Use Management Policy developed with an emphasis on the management of land to deliver benefits to both the public, farmers and landowners.

‘It may be beneficial in some places, for example in those areas where the priority is to reduce flooding, that this takes precedence over intensive food production. Working with nature to absorb flood water and the slow release of that water should be a valued outcome for which the farming community is paid.

‘Mitigating floods will need a holistic approach. We need to look at larger catchment management issues, how forestry, land management and soft engineered flood alleviation schemes can hold back water in the upper reaches of rivers. All are easier to implement and cost significantly less than ‘grey’ hard engineering solutions that have high impact and even higher costs on our towns and cities but I fear the government is still taking a piecemeal approach to the problem and the review is another missed opportunity. ‘

The review has looked at how we:

* understand the risks of river and coastal flooding from extreme weather over the next 10 years
* assess the resilience of key local infrastructure (such as energy, water, transport and communications), and identify ways to protect it better
* improve how we respond to flood incidents, including through new temporary flood defences.

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