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Flooding in Yorkshire


Farmers must be at heart

of water management strategy
27 Jan 2021
Hannah Binns
Farmers must play a central role in water management to tackle extreme weather challenges while enabling them to keep the nation fed, a new NFU report has outlined.

The report, published today (Wednesday January 27), calls for a joined-up approach between Government, water companies and farmers to upgrade and invest in water infrastructure and management as a ‘critical response to climate change’.

It comes as numerous floods and droughts in recent years have highlighted the country’s vulnerability to weather and climate change, with 57 per cent of farmers experiencing extreme conditions in the last 10 years according to the organisation.

NFU deputy president Stuart Roberts said it was time to look at the bigger picture.

“Cooperation and collaboration between farmers, government and water companies is vital in our response to managing flooding and drought risk, to protect productive farmland and ensure farmers are getting their fair share of water,” he said.

Read MoreSaturated soils bring flooding heartache for growers
Saturated soils bring flooding heartache for growers
Government ‘unwilling’ to help farmers tackle flooding
Government ‘unwilling’ to help farmers tackle flooding
Threat of ‘significant flooding’ in north as heavy rainfall continues to batter UK farms
Threat of ‘significant flooding’ in north as heavy rainfall continues to batter UK farms
Flooding frustration
Flooding frustration
The report identified an ambitious upgrade of ageing flood defences, drainage and waterways would be critical alongside embracing Britain’s engineering and science skills to look at ways of collecting and storing water.

“There are already great examples of farmers adapting their businesses to make them more resilient to extreme weather by developing on-farm rainwater harvesting systems and using precision irrigation,” Mr Roberts added.

“They can do much more as long as they have support and the tools to do so; being able to access funding to build more on-farm reservoirs and to invest in new irrigation equipment would help alleviate flooding and secure more water.”

Responding to the report, Innes Thomson, ADA’s chief executive, said: “Our Internal Drainage Boards work very closely with farmers and landowners to balance the seasonal variations in water levels, but in order to make that step-change in a truly integrated approach, farmers and landowners must be seen as part of the solution such that water management becomes part of their businesses and not simply an increasing risk and threat to UK food production.”

Lack of maintenance work results in flooding again, sparking anger from FUW
Lack of maintenance work results in flooding again, sparking anger from FUW
Flooding of several hundreds acres of ‘best agricultural land’ at Llandfrothen near Porthmadog has sparked ‘deep anger’ and ‘frustration’ from Famers’ Union of Wales members in Meirionnydd.

The flooding was caused by the Afon Croesor, a main river and the responsibility of Natural Resources Wales (NRW), overflowing once again to the nearby Internal Draining District.

The issue had been raised to NRW on several occasions, with site meetings held in August 2020 with NRW staff following a previous flooding incident in July 2020.

FUW Meirionnydd county executive officer, Huw Jones, said the NRW officers were shown trees and overhanding branches at these meetings which impede the river flow and required maintenance work.

“We also discussed the clear need to dredge parts of the river. Flood banks in urgent need of repairs were also shown, with a request that a detailed inspection is carried out as soon as possible, with a view to making repairs as soon as possible. We gave a clear warning that doing nothing was not an option,” Mr Jones said.

“It is abundantly clear that the capacity of the river Croesor has been significantly reduced due to the fact that it has not been dredged regularly. It is understood that years ago, dredging would be done every few years, but the position now is that this has not been done for decades, so we have silt building up on the river bed. We have excellent agricultural land in this area, and moreover, there is no doubt that substantial damage is done to habitat and biodiversity with continuous flooding.”


FUW member Glyn Griffiths, who farms near Llanfrothen, and who chairs the local Dwyfor and Meirionnydd IDD advisory group said: “We drew attention to several matters which required urgent attention of NRW, and we were promised that works would be carried out.

“It is so disappointing that these promises were not kept, and the necessary works not carried out. The Land Drainage Act 1991 and Water Framework Directives show clearly that NRW has a statutory responsibility as the Drainage Board to maintain and improve the drainage within the district.”

Mr Griffiths added further meetings will be arranged to investigate and explore the legal obligations and whether NRW have breached their duty of care.

“The whole issue must again be referred to Liz Saville Roberts MP, and we must make every effort to ensure that this does not happen again,” he said.

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