Following the announcement of billions of pounds worth of investment into tackling flooding and the launch of the Environment Agency’s Flood Strategy, the NFU has made clear that the responsibility to carry out and recover from natural flood solutions, such as intentionally flooding farmland, cannot lie solely with the farmer.
NFU Deputy President Stuart Roberts said that farmers and growers need to be at the heart of future flood management policy and properly rewarded for their role in nature-based solutions to flooding.
Mr Roberts commented: “We are pleased to see the government recognise the vital role of farmers in managing floods, as well as the importance of an integrated water management strategy.
“Farmers understand they have a significant role to play in preventing floods reaching towns and cities, but the strategy needs to ensure we have resilient businesses that can withstand these events in the first place and then quickly recover to return to our core business of producing food for the nation.
“We are concerned about the significant emphasis on nature-based solutions and the lack of detail on how farmers would be supported to carry this out. The onus must not solely fall on the farmer and appropriate support needs to be in place that accounts for the maintenance and liability of such schemes.”
He added concerns over the suggestion that the Environment Agency appears to no longer consider flood defences to protect farmland as a sustainable part of its strategy: “Many of these flood defences are deteriorating, unfortunately in part due to the lack of value the government has placed on maintaining them. Our view is that these defences are a crucial part of an ambitious flood strategy and they warrant proper investment, alongside nature-based solutions.”