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15 OCT 2016

Coffey: 'Robert Courts is the candidate who will deliver for rural communities'

Environment Minister Thérèse Coffey, joined Conservative by-election candidate Robert Courts to visit an innovative flood management scheme in West Oxfordshire.

Honeydale Farm, run by Cotswold Seeds, has an innovative flood management project which helps reduce the likelihood of flooding along the Evenlode Valley and also create a new wetland habitat for wildlife.

Thérèse Coffey and Robert were given a tour of the farm by farmer and Cotswold Seeds owner Ian Wilkinson and technical advisor Sam Lane.

Speaking after the visit, Thérèse Coffey MP said: "I really enjoyed visiting Ian Wilkinson and Sam Lane to see the very interesting natural flood management and biodiversity work they have undertaken at Honeydale Farm.

"In a rural constituency like Witney, government working in partnership with farmers towards flood prevention can bring many benefits to local communities and the natural environment.

"Robert clearly understands that. He is the only candidate who will deliver for rural communities."

The flood management project at Honeydale is part of a comprehensive plan for diversity on the farm, including the development of a heritage orchard and micro businesses including beekeeping.

Ian Wilkinson said: "I was delighted to welcome Robert Courts and Environment Minister Thérèse Coffey to Honeydale to be able to show how new mixed farming with plant diversity at its core can not only provide good food but also help manage flood waters and provide abundant wildlife.

"It is clear Robert understands the importance of the rural environment and the part that it can play in protecting local communities from future flooding.

"He will be a strong local voice in Parliament for Witney and West Oxfordshire."

As secretary of the cross-party group for the River Thames, which lobbies to improve and promote flood risk management, Robert understands the issues around flooding and biodiversity in Witney and West Oxfordshire.

Robert Courts said: "Flooding in this area has devastated homes and businesses in the past.

"If elected, I will work with businesses like Honeydale Farm and build on the progress already made by David Cameron to protect Witney and West Oxfordshire from future flooding."

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