East Anglia: NFU environment adviser calls for action on MPs’ flood report

Rob Wise

Rob Wise - Credit: Archant

The National Farmers’ Union in East Anglia has welcomed a new report from MPs that says the Government needs to spend more to protect valuable farmland from flooding.

Regional NFU environment adviser Rob Wise said the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee report was a great step forward in getting recognition of the flood risks faced by farmers and the risk it poses for long term food security.

And he urged Chancellor George Osborne and the Treasury to act on MPs’ recommendations by funding year-on-year increases in capital spending on flood defence projects.

“The issues highlighted in this report are particularly relevant here in the East, where so much of our Grade 1 farmland is at risk of flooding,” he said.

“The committee is rightly challenging Defra and the Environment Agency to place greater emphasis on protecting farmland, but ultimately these decisions rest with the Chancellor and his Treasury officials.

“The facts highlighted in this report will make it harder for the Treasury to ignore this important issue any longer.”

Mr Wise said the NFU was especially pleased to see the committee highlighting the drastic cutbacks the Government has made to revenue budgets.

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This was affecting the long term life of defence structures where maintenance was no longer carried out and drastically reducing the dredging of rivers and watercourses, which only exacerbatedflooding, he said.

The NFU had made progress with the Environment Agency in recent months on making it easier for farmers to carry out maintenance and dredging themselves, but the progress needed to be accelerated, he added.

“The quid pro quo, if farmers are to do more of the work themselves, is that overall government investment levels must be maintained to ensure that flood risks overall are reduced through adequate levels of new flood defence construction and maintenance of existing structures,” said Mr Wise.