AS the floodwaters rose during last winter’s deluge so too did the tension between those on the ground and those in charge of the Environment Agency and other organisations.
The problem was it was not the first time many parts of the agricultual community had battled environmental disaster, with those on the Somerset Levels having been the ones in front of TV cameras a few years before as their cattle and farming businesses were soaked in knee high water.
This week’s proposals come, therefore, as a blast of common sense for many who want to see flood defence strategy and disaster response take on a more localised approach.
Some may baulk at the idea of productive farmland being flooded in order to save those in more vulnerable areas, but some farmers would no doubt take the money if it was offered.
The ethos, whatever the approach, must be about ensuring our rural and urban communities are not blighted by the havoc flooding can cause.
Last Christmas, when it seemed to rain incessantly for about six weeks and made the water table rise to unsustainable levels across much of the UK, there seemed to be nothing that could have stood in the way of Mother Nature.
But the reality is there must be plans and structures in place to ensure that if these events happen again the response is swift and proportionate.
More importantly, however, is that those on the ground are given the power to control flood management at a local level, with many claiming for a long time that rivers and ditches have been left to silt up.
Dragging flood defence control away from the Environment Agency is one thing, but the greater battle is to ensure the current form of top-down Government which does not engage with local stakeholders in consigned to the past.
Our farmers and rural people understand the landscaoe they live in. Let them have their say.
The French Farming Minister’s blast this week that the UK cannot leave the EU club but have all the benefits will rattle many. Keep an eye on
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