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Farmers speak of battle to save livestock during Christmas floods

Farmers have spoken of their battle to save sheep and cattle during the Christmas floods which battered northern England and Scotland.


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Farmers across the country have faced hellish conditions
Farmers across the country have faced hellish conditions

Lancashire farmer Tim Robinson saved five in-lamb ewes from the flooded banks of the River Ribble at Ribchester on Boxing Day, only to lose 38 sheep a few hours later further upstream at nearby Dinckley.

 

Cumbrian farmer Bryan Fell blamed years of neglect by Environment Agency for the recent flooding which caused ‘colossal’ damage to his farm, flooded each of his buildings and left cattle standing in a foot of water.

 

Mr Robinson, who farms 600 Texel, Beltex and Charollais sheep, said: "I had 210 in-lamb sheep down by the Ribble at Ribchester and I kept getting phone calls saying the river was bad.

 

 


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"The five sheep were stranded on a small island which formed under a tree and I struggled to get them back as the water was rising so quickly."

 

As the water flooded the field, Mr Robinson managed to get them to safety and also retrieve his feed trough before it was washed away.

 

But a few miles upstream he found 100 sheep stranded on an island, with 12 foot water all around them.

 

"I had no choice but to leave them because the water was so deep and when I came back the next morning I had lost 38," he added.

 

For Mr Fell, due to the damage caused to bridges and various closures, his 80 hectares (200 acres) were ‘split up’, meaning he was forced to travel 35 miles to feed his sheep.

 

 

Running 600 sheep and 100 suckler cattle, he said: “We have been telling the Environment Agency (EA) for the last 10 years what was going to happen if they continued to neglect the watercourses and now it has happened.

 

“We had such a deluge that the beck which runs through the farm burst its banks causing thousands of tonnes of debris to spread over our land."

 

Mr Fell said the water ran freely through the beck and into the Bassenthwaite Lake when the EA used to dredge it regularly.

 

“They think more about wildlife than they do about our businesses. It will be a loss of life before they change their policies,” he added.

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