More funding vital for flood recovery, says NFU

National Farmers’ Union (NFU) deputy president Meurig Raymond has announced that further funding is essential to ensure the problems caused by flooding do not get worse in rural areas.

Raymond said that while investment in urban flood prevention had increased, available revenue for waterway maintenance was insufficent and this could cause great damage for farmers.

“Staff from the Environment Agency have done a fantastic job in hugely difficult circumstances, working long hours over the Christmas and New Year period, and should be commended for the work they have done. But investment is needed to increase the capacity of the pumps the Environment Agency and the Internal Drainage Boards have available to help clear floodwater quickly,” he said.

The government announced an additional £5m for flood risk management for 2015-2016, but Raymond believes more needs to be done to protect agriculture.

“Maintenance is a key issue for farmers, as regular periodic works maintain conveyance and capacity within the river system. This means floodwater can return to the river system quickly and reduces the extent and duration of any flooding. If water cannot return to the river system, flooding will extend over a greater area and last longer because the water has nowhere to go.

“The NFU recognises that the amount of funding available is limited and money has to be spent carefully. But £20m spent annually on river maintenance is not enough to do the job effectively. The Environment Agency’s annual flood risk management revenue budget will be nearly £50m less in 2014-15 than it was in 2010-11,” he said.

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