Dredging, maintenance, environmental legislation and the Dutch example topped the agenda during a flooding early bird meeting at #NFU14 this morning.
The session saw the publication of the NFU’s flooding manifesto, suggesting that farmland and rural communities are too often sacrificed as the lowest priorities when water levels rise.
And it provided an opportunity to hear from one of the key players in the debate, with Environment Agency director of flood and coastal risk management, David Rooke on-hand.
There was frustration at recent events, but also an opportunity. Mr Rooke said the agency would work with the NFU and adopt a ‘yes, if’, rather than a ‘no way’, mind-set.
Chairman and NFU President Peter Kendall said: “This session is not just about putting our case to the EA, but also about working together collectively as government looks at its spending programme, to make the case for resources to do the work we know needs to be done.
“We have an opportunity to really rattle this hard. If we’re going to get the economic recovery we need a bigger flood budget and we need to look closely at how the Dutch, for example, manage environmental legislation.
“Of course it’s down to finance, and we have to use the recent media coverage and the picture we’ve now got to make sure we are better placed in the future.”
Mr Rooke told farmers: “Yes we need to learn lessons, and we do need to be prepared for more winters like this. We need to utilise all methods of flood risk reduction, including dredging, desilting, repairing banks, slowing the flow, storing water and improvements further upstream.
“And we will continue to work closely with the NFU and its members.”
Press Release, February 26, 2014