Hills to Levels is a holistic catchment management approach across catchments in Somerset, aiming to ‘slow the flow’ to reduce flood risk, reduce erosion, improve water quality, deliver wider environmental benefits and increase resilience on the floodplain. The idea is that a lot of small-scale interventions will have an effect at the large catchment scale with the motto that ‘every field, every farm, every stream has its part to play in flooding and water quality’. Hills to Levels is part of the delivery team of the land management workstream of the Somerset 20 -Year Flood Action Plan.

The Hills to Levels approach offers advice and capital grants for Natural Flood Management (NFM) techniques, supported by a range of different funding bodies (the Somerset Rivers Authority, Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership, The European Development Fund, Water Environment Improvement Fund WFD GiA) and sub-projects: Triple C and the Multiple Benefits Project.

Map of the Hills to Levels project area. © Crown Copyright and database right. Ordnance Survey 100038382. Environment Agency copyright and/or database rights 2017. Contains OS open data. All rights reserved.
Modelled Flow Pathways, used to identify run-of and opportunity sites. © Crown Copyright and database right. Ordnance Survey 100038382. Environment Agency copyright and/or database rights 2017. Contains OS open data. All rights reserved.

Advice and capital grants available

The Hills to Levels approach offers advice and capital grants for NFM measures that deliver the following outcomes. The Hills to Levels approach partners with Catchment Sensitive Farming on land management advice and grants. Technical information sheets have been developed for all the below funded measures.

The above list of measures is not exhaustive. All information is intended for guidance only and describes current best practice. The detailed requirements for every scheme are site specific – please contact FWAG or CSF to get advice. Local contractors of choice can be used, or farmers/landowners can choose to do the work themselves, depending on the complexity of the planned work.
For more information on Natural Flood Management structures under Hills to Levels, check out our you-tube channel.

Hills to Levels delivery up to September 2016

The farms that have received advisory visits under Hills to Levels.
© Crown Copyright and database right. Ordnance Survey 100038382. Environment Agency copyright and/or database rights 2017. Contains OS open data. All rights reserved.
Natural Flood Management schemes complete, in progress and proposed.
© Crown Copyright and database right. Ordnance Survey 100038382. Environment Agency copyright and/or database rights 2017. Contains OS open data. All rights reserved.

How Hills to Levels has developed over time

Hills to Levels first started as a distinct project in catchments draining to the Somerset Levels. This project was delivered by a partnership of the Bath and West Society, Somerset Wildlife Trust, RSPB and FWAG SW, and was funded by Players of the Peoples’ Postcode Lottery (01/03/2015) (http://www.hillstolevels.co.uk/).

The devastating 2013/14 winter floods launched a partnership of local and national organisations, co-ordinated by the Somerset County Council, which developed the 20 Year Flood Action Plan. This plan recognised that reducing runoff and sediment delivery from the upper and mid catchment has a benefit on localised flooding and flooding in the lowlands. Therefore, land management in the upper catchment was added as a workstream to the 20 Year Flood Action Plan, alongside dredging, river management, the management of urban run-off and increasing resilience in local communities and infrastructure. The original aims were:

  • Working in the upper catchment to ‘slow the flow’ of water from the hills to the Somerset Levels and Moors
  • Working in the lower catchment to reduce the impact of flooding on the Levels and Moors
  • Working to establish a Community Land Trust
  • Working with local communities

Key objective of the Somerset Flood Action Plan was to broaden the scope of Catchment Sensitive Farming (CSF) to include flood risk as well as water quality. The Catchment Sensitive Farming Officer for the Tone ane Parrett, Roy Hayes, was seconded to the Hills to Levels project for 2 years.

Since then, ‘Hills to Levels’ has merged into an umbrella approach, which hosts several sub-projects. It now delivers across all catchment in Somerset and has added multiple environmental benefits to its remit.

Contact us on 01823 660684 for more information or to organise a farm visit.