The government must review its flooding and coastal defence policies and commit more money into reducing further risks to the British countryside, the NFU said today.
The NFU believes that farmland and rural communities are too often being sacrificed as the lowest priority in managing the nation’s floods and that continued unmanaged, and uncompensated, flooding removes farmers’ ability to earn a sustainable living.
Launching the NFU’s flooding manifesto at day two of the NFU Annual Conference in Birmingham, Deputy President Meurig Raymond said government would be wise to make a long-term commitment to reducing flood risk for both rural and urban communities looking at rivers and their catchments as a whole.
The NFU also believes that flooding and coastal surges experienced in the last decade illustrate that current allocation of funding, legislative restrictions and active management of our watercourses and sea defences is inadequate.
The NFU is urging government to review its flood and coastal risk management policy with these key themes in mind:
- Recognising the true value of agriculture and our rural communities;
- Increased funding targeted at maintenance and delivery;
- Easier ways to allow maintenance of our watercourses and flood defences;
- A reduction on the impacts of urban areas.
Meurig Raymond, NFU Deputy President:
“We’ve been here before, and here we are again. We simply must have a flood and coastal management approach that can cope with more extreme weather, something we are increasingly being exposed to – and a public spending budget which reflects this increased risk.
“It is unacceptable for farmland and rural communities to simply be allowed to be sacrificed – our countryside is too valuable to allow for this situation to continue or worsen. Agriculture is a major industry and rural employer and there is much more at risk from flooding than just the food that ends up on our dinner plates.
“The contribution of Britain’s farms should not be ignored if the nation is to become less dependent on food imports.
“We must find better ways of coping with flooding and protecting our lives, property and farmland, using all the options available to us. As a nation we need to take full advantage of measures to maintain the conveyance and capacity of our rivers whilst at the same time seek a more active role for some farms to trap, store and slow water. Farmers providing flood management services should be properly rewarded where they are a cost efficient solution.”