£15 million for flood defences after Friends of the Earth campaign

The government has pledged £15 million for natural flood measures, following a campaign by Friends of the Earth.

Environment Secretary Andrea Leadsom announced the pot of money just 4 days after Friends of the Earth revealed that so far the government had not allocated any funding for natural flood defence measures - despite many promises over the past year.

A Freedom of Information request by Friends of the Earth to the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA) revealed that “at the time of writing there is no funding earmarked specifically for Natural Flood Management”.

Mrs Leadsom said the money would be spent on natural flood measures which includes planting trees to slow the flow of water, better soil management and installing leaky dams. 

She made the the announcement in Parliament on 24 November, following pressure from Friends of the Earth and Rewilding Britain.

Chris Jackson's possessions outside his flooded home
Clearing up after flooding in Kendal, Cumbria, winter 2015-16, by Luke Santilli

Friends of the Earth climate campaigner Guy Shrubsole said: “This is fantastic news. Communities, scientists and campaigners have said for years that we must work more closely with nature to reduce flooding.

“This additional money for natural flood measures will help defend flood-risk communities, repairing damaged landscapes and slowing the flow of water downstream.”

Just the beginning

Since the devastating floods of winter 2015-16, including those in Cumbria (main picture), there were several promises from ministers to fund natural flood management measures including a £700 million pot announced in this year’s Budget for “innovative” flood defence. 

Yet the Freedom of Information request showed that nothing had actually been allocated at all.

Of the £15 million pledge, Guy Shrubsole added: “It is of course only just the start. The prospect of dangerous climate change demands we urgently slash the carbon emissions driving up flooding, as well as radically rethinking our relationship to the land. 

“Next, the government must drastically reform farm subsidies - ending handouts to landowners who keep our uplands bare of trees - and instead pay farmers to provide public goods, such as reducing flooding.”

Find out about flooding where you live

flooded shores of ullswater