The Environment Audit Committee report released today states that funding for river maintenance has decreased by 6 per cent from 2010-15.
The report has exposed that whilst the government claims funding has increased every five years, this has only been due to the establishment of emergency funding in response to the 2013 floods.
NFU environment forum chair Mark Pope said: “Sustained and increased maintenance budgets are vital to ensure repairs are made to river channels and flood defence structures. An unacceptable flood risk is posed to urban and rural communities and productive agricultural land when this maintenance is not undertaken.
"We support the government’s decision to secure a further total £3bn in capital works from 2016-21. But we’re questioning whether an annual maintenance budget of £170m is sufficient - the Environment Agency reports that £170m is at the lower end of the budget required for maintenance works. This increases the likelihood of both river channels and flood defence structures falling into disrepair.”
Government has stated that part of the addition £700m pledged by the government during the 2016 budget will be assigned to Natural Flood Risk Management.
Mark Pope added: “The NFU believes that that Natural Flood Risk Management, in the right location, does have a role to play in mitigating flood risk as part of a total catchment management so long as there is suitable compensation for farmers.
"Partnerships are crucial to the development of Natural Flood Management, with funding for these flood mitigation services being provided by all stakeholders who benefit. However Natural Flood Risk Management is not a panacea solution and will never replace the need for river maintenance and the construction of hard-engineered structures.”