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Britain's farmers unite as floods crisis continues

As the flooding nightmare reached crisis levels and more of the country disappeared under water this week, farmers rallied from all four corners of the UK in a show of unity.
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Farmers and rural organisations joined forces to find and deliver forage and bedding to hard hit areas where some farms have been submerged for several weeks.

 

Charities said they have been inundated with calls from people pledging their support and farmers have been organising their own ‘tractor-aid’ runs to deliver aid to those in turmoil.

 

Wakefield NFU member Philip Rowbottom, who made the 225-mile journey to Bridgwater in Somerset yesterday (Thursday), said the massive relief effort showed the ‘solidarity’ within the Great British farming unity.

 

In a sign of the escalating scale of the crisis, Prime Minister David Cameron took responsibility for the recovery effort, insisting ‘money is no object’ and making £10m available for affected farmers.

 

As the political blame-game at times descended into farce, Mr Cameron refused to give his backing to Environment Agency chairman Lord Smith, who has come under increasing pressure to resign over his handling of the catastrophe.

 

Somerset Levels farmer Edwin White, a former chairman of the Royal Bath and West Society, said the group had warned Mr Cameron of the ‘urgent need’ to dredge the rivers Parrett and Tone twice last year.

 

Levels farmer Gavin Sadler added: “Last year Lord Smith came here and said something would be done within six months, but nothing has happened. This is what happens when you take no action.

 

“We have been banging on about dredging the rivers and no, it might not have stopped this from happening, but the water would have been able to get away a lot quicker.

 

“Everyone is suffering from the neglect of the Environment Agency but sadly they are only doing what Government policy has stipulated.”

 

Hydrologists said the rising flood water, which contains sewage and animal waste and poses a threat of E.coli and salmonella, may not completely subside until well into spring.

 

Severe flood warnings remain for Berkshire and Surrey after the River Thames burst its banks and the River Severn in Worcester is said to be at its highest level since the devastating floods of 2007.

 

The Met Office also warned of Hurricane Force 12 winds in the Irish sea areas of Lundy and Fastnet.

 

Farmers Weather expert Dr Simon Keeling said the chaos acted as a wake-up call to the reality of climate change, with weather patterns changing more dramatically and more frequently.

 

  • For more on the floods see pages 2-3 and 8-9.

 


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