Thursday, 26 January 2017

NFU flood risk strategy

Photo: Clive Simpson

Farmers in Lincolnshire have a key role to play in flood management – but the Government must ensure that measures to address flood risk are properly funded, the NFU (National Farmers' Union) said today.

The call comes in the NFU’s 'Flood Manifesto', launched at Westminster in London just two weeks after communities, properties and productive farmland along the UK's east coast were threatened by a storm surge.

The manifesto urges the Government to adopt a ‘plan, protect and pay’ approach as part of a long-term strategic blueprint for flood and coastal risk management.

NFU East Midlands’ Environment Adviser, Paul Tame says: “The response to the storm surge earlier this month was an excellent example of local and national authorities, emergency services and communities working together in the face of a significant flooding threat.

“We want to see more of this joint working as we plan for long-term challenges, an approach that will include more decisions made at a local level, including devolving responsibilities to Internal Drainage Boards (IDBS) where the Environment Agency is no longer fully funded to carry out maintenance.

“There also needs to be proper assessment of the value of agriculture when looking at flood management. This is crucially important in Lincolnshire, where so much highly productive farmland is at risk of flooding.

“And where agricultural land is part of the solution to flooding, such as providing flood water storage, this must be planned, agreed and paid for.”

The manifesto lists recent flooding events that have affected agriculture, including the winter of 2013 and 2014 when about 45,000 hectares of agricultural land were flooded, at a cost to the sector of £19 million. This included more than 1,000 hectares in Lincolnshire.

NFU Deputy President Minette Batters said: “British farming provides the raw ingredients for an industry worth £108 billion to the UK economy, which also provides 3.9 million jobs.

“It’s the bedrock of the food industry, feeding the nation and playing a part in feeding the world. Some of our most productive and highest value agricultural land lies in floodplains or coastal regions, vulnerable to flooding, and deserves to be protected.

“In short, the Government’s strategy to manage future flood risk must be to plan, protect and pay.”

Photo: Clive Simpson
Improving coastal flood defences is vital to protect agricultural land and rural communities from tidal surges and rising sea levels.

Whilst the frequency of coastal flooding events is lower than fluvial events, the impacts of them can be catastrophic to agriculture. Many low lying areas on the East coast of England, which are vulnerable to storm surge events, are also some of the country’s most productive land.

Lincolnshire, an area affected by the 1953 and 2013 storm surges, produces 25 per cent of all UK-grown vegetables, supports an agri-food industry worth £1 billion annually. Saline water intrusion can lead to long-term reductions in productivity, and large costs in restoring the land. The county is also home to 225, 000 people and handles a high proportion of UK offshore gas imports.

Improving coastal flood defences is vital to protect agricultural land and rural communities from tidal surges and rising sea levels. Funding for coastal defence activities must consider the long-term implications of the inundation of saline water on some of England’s most important and productive agricultural land.

No comments:

Post a Comment