SOMERSET will get nearly 30,000 new trees next year to reduce flood risk and improve river quality thanks to a windfall of £95,000.

The funding comes from a £1.4 million Environment Agency fund called 'Woodlands for Water' to support 15 projects in England that will see more than 850,000 trees planted.

The projects will protect around 160km of river and help to reduce the risk of flooding to over 500 properties.

The ‘Woodlands for Water’ funding, which forms part of the £640 million Nature for Climate fund to support the government’s tree planting commitment, will support projects like Somerset Trees for Water.

The project, which is being spearheaded by Farming and Wildlife Advisory Group SW and Reimagining the Levels, will see 29,973 trees and hedging planted across Somerset.

The trees will be supplied free to landowners, who will be paid to plant them.

More than 24,000 of the trees will be planted in South Somerset across eight sites and the rest in Taunton Deane and Mendip.

Chairman of the Environment Agency, Emma Howard Boyd, said:"This £1.4 million fund is one part of the wide range of measures to improve the nation’s resilience to the impacts of climate change.

"It will accelerate efforts to reach net zero and help achieve the government’s 25 Year Environment Plan goals for nature through effective nature-based solutions.

"The projects chosen will provide invaluable benefits to communities and our environment – from reducing flood risk and protecting homes, to capturing carbon, improving water quality and encouraging biodiversity."

A pot of £2.5 million of funding will also support schemes that establish new ways of planting trees in cities, towns and countryside.

Led by Defra, Natural England and the Tree Council, it will use five pilot studies delivered on the ground by Local Authorities to develop cost-effective and innovative approaches to planting trees outside woodlands over the next two and a half years.

It could include schemes such as community tree nurseries, agroforestry and hedgerow management, or planting trees from locally collected seed. These new trees will help tackle climate change and create habitats for wildlife.

Forestry Minister, Lord Goldsmith, said:“We are going to have to break down the barriers to planting trees outside of woodlands if we are to deliver our ambitious tree planting commitments.

"Trees are the backbone of our urban and rural environments, and increasing planting is an effective way both to tackle climate change and stem the appalling collapse of biodiversity.

“These ambitious new initiatives will help deliver tree planting on an unprecedented scale. They will help to regenerate our urban areas, as well as our watercourses and create a network of green corridors for both people and wildlife to thrive.

Sara Lom, CEO The Tree Council, said: “We are delighted to be working with local authority partners at the heart of this important project, in line with our mission to bring people together, to find creative solutions to establish more trees in our communities in a practical and sustainable way.”