A group of Cumbrian farmers have taken their fight for a more sustainable long-term flood management approach to Westminster.
Paul Barnes of Blackwood Farm, Braithwaite, said he was encouraged to take action after he and fellow farmer Keith Harryman were left saving the day after the extreme weather events of winter of 2015/16.
The friends have since formed the Cumbria Rivers Authority Group (CRAG) to encourage what they called ‘proper farm management of flooding’ and addressed the Efra committee to push for a change in the law.
Mr Barnes said: “The Environment Agency (EA) has invited CRAG to enter into discussions on things going forward so we have definitely hit the next step.
“Neil Parish was highly supportive of us and promised he would make a visit up to look specifically at the issues we are facing – not just farming but the whole job.
“It is now up to him to take it to the commons and get laws passed on what can and cannot be done.”
He said he hoped initiatives through CRAG would help ‘reduce flooding for everyone’ after ‘30 years of total neglect’.
CRAG is seeking to improve land management in terms of rivers, river gravel, lakes and trees on the river banks and land surrounding rivers.
It hopes to offer ‘proper practical thinking’ on river drainage systems and a county-wide emergency plan which, if successful, could be replicated on a national scale.
Paul Cobbing, chief executive of the National Flood Forum, said communities must be at the heart of shaping their future.
He added: “The trauma they still feel now, let alone when the floods happened, is all too real.
“They are the experts in flooding in their communities and they are the people who have to live with the consequences of the decisions that organisations take.”