NFU warnings over new floods Act

Posted: Tuesday 3rd August 2010

The new Flood and Water Management Act fails to recognise the need to produce food in England and Wales and could raise costs for those with on-farm reservoirs, the NFU has warned.

The Act, given Royal Assent on April 8, is aimed at reducing flood risks in homes and businesses. But the NFU feels its impact on food production have not been fully thought through.

More than half of grade one agricultural land lies within five metres above sea level and 40 per cent of vegetables produced in England and Wales are produced in low-lying fens.

The NFU has raised concerns that the desire for environmental enhancement could take precedent over domestic food production, a situation potentially worsened because the Environmental Agency has legislative powers to take environmental action irrespective of the scale and impact on farming business.

Small farms with on-site reservoirs could also be affected by re-classification, with thresholds of large reservoirs being reduced from a current capacity of 25,000 cubic metres to 10,000 cubic metres.

NFU water policy adviser Jenny Bashford said: “A second Water Bill, or at least a white paper on water issues, is expected in the first session of parliament following the election.

“We will continue to press for food policy to be a material consideration in the Flood Risk Management process and to ensure that the Environment Agency’s governance procedures allow for variances to the national flood strategy where it is necessary and appropriate.

“We will also press for an appeals process for local strategies to vary from the national strategy, subject to significant reasons for doing so, and reassurance that no changes in the registration costs will be passed on to farmers.”

The NFU recognises the need for a single, coordinating body to be responsible for all types of flooding, and understands the reasons for the EA being given this role.

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