Tax relief call for farmer and landowner flood protection schemes

The CLA wants support for landowners to put up flood defences

The CLA wants support for landowners to put up flood defences - Credit: Archant

Landowners are “up for the challenge” in protecting land from flooding but the Government needs to offer them tax relief on what they spend, a group says.

The Country Land and Business Association (CLA) says providing tax relief for farmers and landowners willing to finance flood defence projects would help the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) attract the necessary private investment required to protect homes, rural businesses and food production.

The CLA made the call in the wake of an Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (EFRA) Select Committee report on DEFRA Performance in 2014–15.

The committee expressed concern that DEFRA, which is facing cuts of 15% in day-to-day spending over the next four years, will not be able to adequately fund and support flood and coastal erosion defence schemes.

It pointed to the Government’s £2.3billion six-year investment programme for England, intended to fund 1,400 schemes, which had only raised £250million from “external contributions” – with £61m of this from the private sector – against a target of £600m.

CLA East regional director Ben Underwood said: “As the past weeks have shown, improving flood protection remains crucial and the EFRA Committee has raised a concern that investment in this from the private sector has not been guaranteed.

“The CLA will continue to press for tax relief for spending on flood protection measures to be extended to private landowners, which will encourage more private investment. Landowners can be part of the mitigation against floods, and we are up for the challenge.”

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The report also raised concerns over digital connectivity, and highlighted the need for fast and affordable broadband to be delivered to all parts of the country.

“The Government has committed to a Universal Service Obligation of 10Mbps. This will be a real boost for the rural economy and the CLA will push for this to be delivered, so that every home in the country is buzzing.”

The EFRA Committee also said DEFRA should be pushing for a simplified Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) scheme. While the CLA was supportive of this, Mr Underwood was keen to stress that the first priority was the immediate delivery of Basic Payment Scheme (BPS) payments to farmers and landowners.

“At the moment, the focus must remain very clearly on paying BPS claimants, in full, within the payment window,” said Mr Underwood.