As Storm Ciarán hits parts of Britain, the CLA has warned of the impact of flooding on farming and rural communities, calling on the Environment Agency to do more to help.
Strong winds and heavy rain are barrelling across southern England, with gusts of more than 110mph (160km/h) along the coast.
Major incidents have been declared in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight, with hundreds of schools shut across southern England. Train lines have also ground to a halt, and motorists have been told to avoid coastal roads.
Flooding can have a massive impact on farming and the countryside, with crops damaged and rural communities often cut off.
Country Land and Business Association President Mark Tufnell said:
“Years of poor management of watercourses and flood defences by the Environment Agency, often caused by lack of resources, mean farmers are still unfairly shouldering the burden of flooding devastation.
“Landowners don’t receive compensation when the Environment Agency effectively floods their fields to protect downstream houses and villages, despite the harm to their crops and livelihoods.
"And when farmers do attempt to implement flood prevention techniques, they face lengthy authorisation delays and costs, creating a lose-lose situation.
“Farmers want to provide solutions to the climate crisis. But until the government steps in to tackle planning delays and offer full and proper compensation to those storing floodwater, farmers will continue paying the price for problems they didn’t create.”
What the CLA is doing
The CLA is regularly raising flooding resilience issues with Defra and the Environment Agency, and has some clear asks in the CLA Water Strategy for 2023, which sets out our high-level ambitions. These include:
- Ensuring that the £5.2bn fund for flood risk reduction is used for maintenance of existing infrastructure as well as new, and to tackle bureaucratic delays in approving work, and building a partnership approach between landowners and EA.
- Catchment focused flood risk partnerships that include affected landowners.
- Improving data and mapping on flood risk to improve decision making on land use, insurance and investment.
- Increased funding for Natural Flood Management (NFM). In September 2023 Defra announced a £25 million fund for new NFM projects over next four years, with applications due by 10 November. This is expected to result in an additional 200 projects.
- Improved options within CS that support NFM and water level management.
- Full consent and compensation for landowners who store flood water that prevents flooding down stream..