NFU: Impact of flood risk on farmers must be taken seriously

Some of our most productive agricultural land lies in floodplains or coastal regions, vulnerable to flooding, and deserves to be protected in the same way as urban areas, the NFU has said.

The issue was among the topics discussed at a workshop hosted by the NFU in London last week looking at the Environment Agency’s new long-term strategy to tackle flooding and coastal change.

NFU vice president Stuart Roberts said: “While priority must be given to the safety of people when it comes to flood risk, agriculture must not be ignored, as the NFU made absolutely clear in front of the Efra Committee inquiry last week.

Productive farmland is an irreplaceable national asset – not just for the provision of food but the other public goods it provides.

“The farming industry is often at the mercy of extreme and changeable weather. The severe floods experienced in recent years have demonstrated why necessary long-term strategic plans must be in place to tackle the nation’s flooding issues.

“This must include the right financial resources, to mitigate future flood risk and to ensure our farmers and growers can continue to produce a safe, traceable and affordable supply of food.”

Attendees at the Flood and Coastal Erosion Risk Management strategy agriculture workshop included representatives from Defra, Environment Agency, Association of Drainage Authorities and county councils.

The English coastline is also under increasing risk from coastal erosion and sea level rise, which could reach 1.15m by the time the vision for this strategy is achieved.

Parts of the East Yorkshire shoreline are currently eroding at 3m a year which can exceed 20m during a storm event or high tide.

The River Steeping breached its banks near Wainfleet All Saints, Lincolnshire, after three days of persistent rainfall on Friday (June 14).

Flooding also affected Shropshire and Northamptonshire. Around 70 homes were evacuated in Wainfleet with a further 720 thought to be at risk. Meanwhile, near Corby, passengers had to be rescued from a stranded train.