NFU Environment Forum Chair on flood risk

17 December 2021

Environment and climate
NFU Environment Forum Chair Richard Bramley on farm

Richard Bramley presented his views on flooding, and discussed his takeaways from COP26.

NFU Environment Forum Chair, Richard Bramley, presented to the Westminster Energy, Environment and Transport Forum on next steps for flood and coastal erosion risk management.

He was one of a number of speakers from different sectors including government agencies such as the Environment Agency.

Delegates highlighted that the frequency and significance of flooding events in recent years had only increased, with extreme events happening in London, Yorkshire and Cumbria.

The effect on farming

Richard highlighted the tangible effects of climate change on UK farming businesses, and talked about his first-hand experience of a significant increase in flood events over recent decades on his farm south of York, where the Wharfe joins the Ouse.

Richard commented: "I’m sure there are morphological reasons for this, be they man-made or related to how we manage our catchments, but it’s also intrinsically linked to the changes in weather pattern driven by climate change."

Glasgow climate pact

Richard also gave an overview of his time at COP26 having spent three days in Glasgow.

"The standout expert aspect for me, which was also borne out in the Glasgow climate pact, was just how little focus there was on our food supply, our food systems, and the impact that our changing climate will have on these.

"I found this quite astonishing. But I would hope that we can recognise the importance of the impact on farming within the issue of coastal resilience and flooding."

Nature-based solutions

Richard also pressed the importance of nature-based solutions, the need to invest in soil health and resilience, and also mentioned the potential long-term strategy needed should beaver re-introduction expand.

The species has huge potential to impact water flow in both a positive and negative way.

The power of agriculture

Richard concluded by highlighting the power of agricultural business to deliver for the climate but also actively considering the impact of ‘sacrificing farmland’.

"Having spoken to many people earlier this month from around the globe, we must not underestimate the potential impact of climate change on our farming systems and global nature.

"Farming is and should increasingly be seen as part of this country’s strategic approach to building resilience for nature, for food, and for our people in the light of the climate challenges ahead."

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