RORY STEWART MP PRAISES LOCAL FLOOD ACTION GROUP IN FLOOD ACTION CAMPAIGN 2015

After one of the wettest weekends of the autumn, Rory Stewart MP and Minister for Floods highlighted the Environment Agency’s (EA) Flood Action Campaign 2015 with a visit to the River Roe Catchment Community Water Management Group (RCCWMG) in Stockdalewath on the border of his constituency, where a local community group have come together to work on ways to reduce flooding risk along the River Roe, and to make the area’s properties flood-resilient through a variety of measures.

The group took the opportunity to demonstrate to Rory some of the innovative ways in which they are preparing for flooding, including strategic tree planting, subsoiling, and localised protection such as flood walls and bunds. They were joined by local neighbours, landowners and farmers; Will Cleasby of the Eden Rivers Trust, who demonstrated the key points of the subsoiling exercise; and Iwan Lawton of the Environment Agency, through whom funding under Defra’s Repair and Renew Grant system has been channelled. The RRG was launched in 2014 to provide homes and businesses with up to £5,000 to establish resilience or resistance measures to their property or neighbourhood, with 156 local authorities claiming over £24m. Around 6,000 home and business owners have benefited from the scheme nationally.

Rory was able to see local contractor Jonny Bainbridge perform the subsoiling, and local children planting trees to allow better penetration of water into the soil. The group also presented to Rory the results of the second MSc study which has been completed looking into the catchment area, which is identifying effective interventions.

Rory Stewart MP said: “This is a real model of local river management, and one that I would love to see more of across the county and the country. The key message that the group conveys is that when a local community is truly invested in a project like this, it delivers lasting benefits. It’s great to see adults and children alike coming together in a way that not only creates practical solutions to flooding, but which fosters a real ‘can do’ community spirit, bringing people into contact with each other around a shared cause.”

David Black of Paragon Veterinary Group, who is a key member of the RCCWMG and who hosted the visit together with his wife Sue, said: “We were delighted to welcome Rory and his team to our community project. He spoke with the local community, including farmers and a local agricultural contractor, Jonny Bainbridge, as well as Will Cleasby from the Eden Rivers Trust and Iwan Lawton from the Environment Agency and heard about and observed activities in the catchment such as tree planting and soil aeration (subsoiling). It was a great visit.”

The visit highlighted the Flood Action Campaign, which runs from November 2-13, during which the EA uses media, social media and local engagement to help raise awareness of flood risk, and to encourage people to take action to prepare for flooding. For more information please visit www.gov.uk/floodsdestroy or follow @EnvAgency on Twitter, using #floodaware

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