The NFU is committed to supporting its members in working to find effective solutions for future flood risk maintenance and has produced a comprehensive NFU guidance pack to assist members concerned with the challenges of future maintenance.
Effective watercourse and coastal maintenance is essential for many farmer and grower members. Historically, much, if not all of this maintenance has been carried out by flood risk management authorities, such as the Environment Agency or local authorities.
Many farmers are seeing maintenance activities reducing or ceasing altogether as a result of flood risk management authorities refocusing on the protection of people and homes.
NFU Environment Forum member Richard Bramley said: “We’re currently experiencing an unprecedented period of dry weather. But only this spring conditions were so wet they affected the drilling and establishment of crops. This demonstrates how important river and coastal maintenance continues to be.
“Historically, much, if not all of this has been carried out by flood risk management authorities, such as the EA or by local authorities. But we know that many of our members need help in finding tangible solutions to continue this maintenance themselves.
“This new pack includes details on the powers and duties of public bodies including the EA to undertake maintenance, what options are available to challenge decisions to withdraw, and crucially a range of possible options available to our members to continue some of the work previously conducted by other risk management authorities.
“The NFU recognises that it may seem daunting continuing maintenance previously carried out by the EA or other public bodies. However, this pack also contains case studies of other groups of farmers who have achieved this, demonstrating that it is very possible.
“We continue to lobby Government for increased flood risk funding to enable better flood resilience for agricultural businesses. Our work has led to a longer-term commitment by Government to extend flood risk funding up until 2026.”
What’s in the pack?
Your rights and responsibilities if owning land immediately adjacent to a watercourse, the powers and duties of public bodies including the Environment Agency to undertake maintenance, how to find out what maintenance is carried out in your catchment.
The decision by the Environment Agency or other body to withdraw from maintenance:
How to find out what maintenance is undertaken in your catchment, the costs of this and who does this. What options are available to you to challenge this decision to withdraw or make an agreement for particular actions to be carried out before withdrawal.
Generating support for a local solution:
Finding out who else may be affected by this issue and who may be interested in funding future maintenance (including businesses, homeowners, and local councils).
Deciding on the best solution in your catchment:
A range of possible options are discussed, from informal agreements, the creation of internal drainage boards and setting up a new company to manage future maintenance. All these solutions could be used to pool funding to collectively manage and maintain a watercourse and its assets. Some options have added benefits, including limiting liabilities to farmers involved with the river maintenance.
Including environmental permitting and consenting considerations, health and safety, access and liabilities.
What has been achieved by other NFU members?
The NFU recognises that it may seem daunting continuing maintenance previously carried out by the Environment Agency or another public body for a long time. However, this pack contains case studies of other groups of farmers who have achieved this, demonstrating that it is very possible.
Download the pack – you will need to login. You can also order a pack through NFU Callfirst on 0370 845 8458.
Your NFU Regional Office can also offer local catchment support and advice – find yours here.