The CLA has written to George Eustice, Defra Minister of State responsible for farming, calling on him to support those affected by the recent flash flooding that affected parts of Upper Swaledale, Arkengarthdale and Wensleydale on Tuesday 30 July.
In the letter, also copied to Thérèse Coffey as Minister of State for the Environment, the CLA calls for urgent action from Government, in particular on the following:
- The Environment Agency to issue immediate licences for affected farmers and landowners to realign water courses where they have been changed by the floods, and remove boulders, drifts of sand and gravel and other debris from grassland, to enable it to be returned to its previously intended use.
- Environmental Stewardship project officers to start immediate farm visits to agree with affected farmers on how any works to rectify damage will be undertaken and to issue appropriate derogations where such work would otherwise be in conflict with their agreements.
- Defra to issue a notice of ‘force majeure’ to farmers who have been affected by the floods in such a way that impedes their ability to meet cross-compliance rules for the Basic Payment Scheme.
- Defra to set up a fund (much as was done in Cumbria in 2015 in the wake of Storm Desmond) to provide financial assistance with costs in rebuilding dry stone walls, clearing sand, gravel, boulders and other debris from fields, drying out buildings, realigning water courses and replacing damaged infrastructure.
CLA Director North Dorothy Fairburn said: “Farmers and landowners have been devastated by the destruction that has been caused by this flash flooding event and it is vital that Government acts quickly to do all it can to ease this distress and help rural businesses get back on track as soon as possible.”