New Government plans to maintain waterways are inadequately funded, leave many areas vulnerable to flooding and do not address a number of critical questions, the NFU claims.
Its warning follows Defra’s response to the Environment Food and Rural Affairs Committee’s report into managing flood risk, which sidesteps key issues raised by the NFU and other organisations regarding watercourse maintenance and rural flooding.
NFU deputy president Meurig Raymond said: “Defra’s response fails to answer questions the NFU and a number of other organisations highlighted regarding the maintenance of flood defences, and particularly watercourses.
“In its response, Defra emphasised the £5m extra funding for maintenance work in 2015-16. However, it has neglected to mention the £45m-worth of cuts to the Environment Agency’s (EA) revenue budget since 2010. The NFU believes this will seriously undermine its ability to maintain waterways
“As its revenue funding is restricted, the EA must deliver increasing value for money from its maintenance activities, with less work being conducted on key watercourses in rural areas. The worrying truth is that the majority of main rivers in such areas are judged by the EA to be minimum need where only works for legal requirements such as health and safety are being delivered on the ground.”