In the last few months farms across the UK have been affected by heavy rainfall and flooding, which has destroyed crops and damaged buildings and local infrastructure.
During a speech at the Oxford Farming Conference earlier this month, Liz Truss announced, subject to parliamentary approval, that farmers would be granted permission to maintain ditches up to 1.5 km long on their land following successful maintenance pilots which showed that regular ditch maintenance could reduce flooding.
The NFU has said that the Environment Secretary Liz Truss had only addressed just a part of the package of solutions needed to reduce flood risk by allowing permission for farmers to maintain ditches on their land.
However, Liz Truss’s announcement was soon followed by news that flooding could soon become profitable for the farming community as the Government has proposed new plans to pay farmers to allow their land to become flooded.
The proposal put forward by the government means that farmers could be rewarded with additional EU grant funding for designating land to be flooded. The scheme is aimed at preventing excess water flooding property in towns and villages downstream.
Professor Alan Jenkins, of the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology (CEH), who has done research in to similar projects, said he supported the scheme.
He was one of a number of experts to take part in a theoretical experiment in Oxford, which experienced severe floods in 2007, that found that peak river flow through the city would have been reduced by several feet if levees had been removed and fields along the river had been allowed to flood.
“Getting farmers to allow their land to be flooded would need an incentive,” he added.
Commons Environment Committee Neil Parish said that he favoured paying farmers to take flood water. The government, which has some discretion over how EU farm grants are spent, said the plan would be considered as part of the government’s review into flood policy.
NFU deputy president Minette Batters said that the flood scheme could be beneficial but should be planned, rather than provided as a form of ad hoc compensation.