Somerset Farmers invited to bid

The Farming & Wildlife Advisory Group SouthWest (FWAG SW) are to hold an auction from 1 – 15 March. The auction is on behalf of Somerset Rivers Authority (SRA) and Bristol Water. The auction is to win grants to work on farmland to manage flooding risk.

The 12 measures for which grants will be given this year are:

  • Grassland subsoiling,
  • Grassland slitting,
  • Maize management,
  • Hedge planting,
  • Hedge planting on banks,
  • Lines of tree planting,
  • Leaky dams,
  • Buffers to intercept run-off,
  • Winter cover crops,
  • Grass swales,
  • Filter fences and – only available in the Bristol Water areas
  • Watercourse fencing to help improve water quality and livestock’s safety.

The SRA’s David Hall explains: “The aim is to help slow the flow of water down to vulnerable areas while delivering other benefits. Moves like grassland slitting and subsoiling, for example, don’t just aerate the ground and let more rain filter in, they also improve the soil.

Total funding available this year is £60,000, the biggest sum yet. £40,000 comes from the SRA, and £20,000 from Bristol Water. Bristol Water’s money is reserved for two areas. The first is within roughly 4 miles of Westbury-sub-Mendip including Chewton Mendip, Wookey, Wedmore and Cheddar. The second is the Egford Borehole catchment north of Nunney near Frome. Bristol Water especially wants to reduce the amount of soil and nutrients running off into watercourses and reservoirs. Cleaner water lowers reservoir treatment costs, and is healthier for wildlife.

Please note the main purpose of Natural Flood Management activities is to slow the flow of water. That is to reduce water from the higher parts of river catchments. So the online auction system at somerset.naturebid.org.uk will not allow bids for most of the low-lying land in Internal Drainage Board areas.

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