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Flood management brought into ELMs ‘test and trial’ - Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority

Upper Wharefdale, near Cray, where the potential for paying farmers for Natural Flood Management via ELMs is being explored. Credit Janet Richardson
Upper Wharefdale, near Cray, where the potential for paying farmers for Natural Flood Management via ELMs is being explored. Credit Janet Richardson

National Trust tenant farmers in the Yorkshire Dales National Park are helping to pave the way to public payments for natural flood management interventions on farmland.

A report published today by the Yorkshire ‘Integrated Catchment Solutions Programme’ (iCASP) describes how farmers in Malham, Wharfedale, Wensleydale and Swaledale have been engaged to develop natural flood management ‘outcome measures and monitoring approaches’.

‘Slowing the flow’ in the uplands to prevent flooding downstream is seen as a key element of the government’s forthcoming ‘public money for public goods’ Environmental Land Management scheme (ELMs)

The farmers were already testing a ‘Payment for Outcomes’ scheme focused on pollinators when it was extended to include natural flood management. The scheme is one of two official ELMs ‘tests and trials’ taking place in the National Park, the other being a pilot scheme in Wensleydale.

The iCASP report details how 10km2 of land on five farms was modelled for potential natural flood management measures. Farmers were then engaged to ‘ground truth’ the findings to make the most their local knowledge and ensure the measures would work with their businesses.

One of the report authors, Helen Keep, Senior Farm Conservation Officer at the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority, said: “Intense rainfall here often causes flooding of properties, as well as damage to the land such as the washing away of footpaths. The last time it happened was earlier this month when flood waters breached many homes and brought down walls and bridges in Wensleydale and Wharfedale. High rainfall here can also cause major flooding in urban areas such as York and Leeds. There can be little doubt that paying farmers and landowners to put in natural flood management measures will bring many positive public benefits. The question is how to create a workable payment scheme.

Posted on: 16 November 2020

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