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Flooding brings more heartache for farmers

Repeated flooding across the country has prompted farmers to renew their plea for help from the Government.



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Many farms have not yet recovered from the last bout of flooding
Many farms have not yet recovered from the last bout of flooding

It came as heavy rain fell on already saturated ground, bringing added misery for producers in areas which were deluged over Christmas.

 

The military were put on standby as Environment Secretary Liz Truss said Defra was taking ‘all possible steps’ to protect lives, homes and businesses.

 

But Sarah Chaplin-Brice, whose farm in Keswick was thrashed by Storm Desmond last month, said the Government’s response had been ‘pathetic’ and added she had no confidence in the Minister’s promise.

 

She blamed a lack of maintenance and management by the EA which she said contributed to last month’s horrific floods which killed some of her livestock and wiped out 1.5km of fencing and gates and 100m of dry stone walls.

 

“There is no designation between the field and the beck – it is all just gravel,” said Mrs Chaplin-Brice.

 

“The Environment Agency has a one size fits all blanket policy on watercourses but you can’t apply that country-wide.

 

“We need to look at individual areas and see what works best there, then let people who understand the land implement them.”

 

The NFU, which convened a meeting at Junction 36 in Kendal last week to discuss the impact of flooding on farm businesses, said it was vital BPS payments were paid quickly.

 

NFU environment policy adviser Martin Rogers said: “With farm buildings, equipment, tracks, boundaries and land in need of repair, stricken farm businesses need access to their BPS payments as quickly as possible.

 

"Cash flow problems are arising because although farmers can get agreement for eligible items from the Farming Recovery Fund (FRF) they have to pay these costs up front before they can claim the grant.

 

“FRF applications are being processed effectively so far but BPS payments need to be made so that farmers have the cash flow to be able to carry out the necessary recovery work. “

 

In some cases the damage caused to some farms by storms Desmond and Eva has exceeded the sum of £20,000 offered under the Farming Recovery Fund.

 

Mr Rogers added: “Where land is still inundated with water it is likely the impacts of the flooding will be longer lasting, and we welcome government agencies’ continued pragmatic approach to undertaking inspections.

 

“Maintenance to pumps and other assets must continue to maximise the rate of water removal from land.

 

“Special consultation is required before decisions are made on the future funding mechanism for natural flood management. Pillar two may not be suitable for some options, especially for longer term or more bespoke flood management schemes. A distinction needs to be made between those schemes which provide flood water storage and those which reduce flood risk.”

 

 


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