This petition was submitted during the 2015–2017 Conservative government

Petition Make planting trees a priority to reduce flooding by improving soil and drainage

By planting trees we are putting back what we took away a natural means of controlling rain water not only will the trees soak up the water the root systems will hold together the soil and make drainage far better. flood defences have been useless we need trees/hedgerows to support the ecosystem.

This petition is closed This petition ran for 6 months

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Government responded

This response was given on 25 February 2016

Trees can slow the flow of water down and reduce the impacts of floods; we are currently exploring the increased role that this could play in flood risk management.

Read the response in full

Every part of our natural environment from our coasts, to our great landscapes, and clean air to productive soils, is a vital part of the success of our country; nature doesn’t exist in silos. By managing the environment in an integrated way we will gain key environmental, economic and social benefits. We are working on a 25 Year Environment Plan which will set out how we will deliver the best natural environment anywhere by making more integrated decisions, using catchments and landscapes as the building blocks rather than single species or features. This makes sense because we will deliver the most effective and efficient environmental improvements if we work with the natural systems that underpin the health of our environment.

We will structure our work around river catchments and landscapes that make up the environment. For the first time, we will have a plan and budget for each area rather than several organisations operating with different plans. We are going to be integrating these plans with the 25-year Plan. As part of this we will be starting four catchment pathfinder projects later this year— in a catchment, marine, and urban setting as well as one in a large rural landscape.

We also need to value our environmental assets for the full range of benefits they provide and incorporate this into the decisions we make. Using natural capital principles can help all of us to do this better, equipping us with a robust and consistent evidence base that can inform practical action on the ground. Data and technology are powerful tools to drive environmental understanding and improvement and Defra has committed to releasing 8,000 data sets by June 2016 to help spur this innovation and development. The tools being designed will give a consistent framework to empower local people to take decisions nationally and locally. For example, natural capital accounting will help calculate where woodland planting would provide the greatest benefits for plants and animals, recreation and reduced flood risk alongside the economic gains for forestry and farming.

Defra continues to support a number of leading research and demonstration projects to better understand the role that land management changes in our landscapes and catchments, such as tree planting, peatland restoration and habitat creation, could have in reducing flood risk. These include the Forest Research led ‘Slowing the Flow Partnership’ in Pickering, North Yorkshire, the National Trust led project at Holnicote Estate in North Somerset and the Making Space for Water’s project on the Upper Derwent catchment in Derbyshire.

These projects indicate that woodlands can slow the flow of water through smaller catchments and reduce the impacts of some floods. We will continue to support such investigations, gathering further evidence into the potential benefits that land management changes, such as tree planting in catchments, could have on reducing flood risk, in addition to the wider environmental and economic benefits that they could provide.

We are also supporting ongoing Forestry Commission research into the role that woodlands could play in reducing flood risk. The England Woodland Grant Scheme has already targeted 1,857 hectares of planting to help reduce flood risk and diffuse pollution in England. We have also designed the Countryside Stewardship Scheme in the new Rural Development Programme to help achieve multi-objectives including flooding and water management.

After the recent storms, it is also important to look at what happened and to learn lessons. That is why we have commissioned an in-depth review. This will give us a chance to look at our defences and ways of modelling to explore new ways of tackling floods in the future. This includes upstream land management options for slowing the flow to reduce the intensity of flood peak and build stronger links between local residents, community groups and flood defence planning.

The framework setting out the key themes for the 25-year environment plan will be published in spring 2016 and we’ll be working with a range of interested parties over 2016 to develop the full plan.

Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

EFRA Committee looks into recent flooding in the UK

At 2.15pm today (Wednesday 6 January) the EFRA Committee will be questioning local representatives and Environment Agency top executives on recent flooding in the UK.

You can find out more about the evidence session and watch it live on the Committee’s website:

After the meeting, the video and transcript will be made available on the same page (the transcript will take a couple of days to appear).

You can follow the EFRA Committee on Twitter: @CommonsEFRA

House of Commons debates flooding

The Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs made a statement on Tuesday 5 January on flooding and was questioned by MPs about it.

You can watch the statement and questions here:

You can read the statement and questions here:

On Thursday 6 January, the House of Commons debated flooding.

You can watch the debate here:

You can read the debate here:

You can follow the House of Commons on Twitter: @HouseofCommons

Liaison Committee questions the Prime Minister on flooding

The House of Commons Liaison Committee questioned the Prime Minister about flooding on Tuesday 12 January.

You can watch the Liaison Committee ask the Prime Minister about the UK's approach to flooding here:

You can watch the Liaison Committee ask the Prime Minister about dredging here:

You can find out more about the session and the Liaison Committee here:

You can follow the House of Commons on Twitter: @HouseofCommons

House of Commons Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee inquiry into future flood prevention

You may be interested to know that the House of Commons Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Select Committee is currently looking into future flood prevention. It will focus on: predicting the future, protecting communities and infrastructure, managing water flows, planning for floods and flood insurance.

The Committee is asking for written submissions from people on the following questions:

· Are the Environment Agency and Met Office models that predict rainfall patterns and the likelihood of future floods fit for purpose - and do they correctly calculate the costs of future flooding to communities?

· How adequately do defences protect communities and agricultural land from floods and do current funding arrangements target spending in the right way?

· How effectively do the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and the Environment Agency’s policies encourage innovative approaches to managing risk such as slowing the flow of water in urban and rural river catchment areas and promoting water storage?

· How well do planning policies ensure new buildings are not put in areas of high flood risk nor where they would increase risk to others – and how well do new developments incorporate sustainable drainage and flood-resilient buildings?

As part of this inquiry, the Committee will look at flood insurance. With the new Flood Re scheme coming into operation in April, written evidence is also welcome on how accessible and affordable flood insurance will be for businesses as well as householders covered by the scheme.

The deadline for submissions is Tuesday 15 March 2016.

You can find out more about the Committee's inquiry here:

You can watch a short video about how Select Committees work here:

You can find out more about how to send a submission to a Select Committee here:

You can follow the EFRA Committee on Twitter: @CommonsEFRA