MORE funding needs to be directed towards river maintenance to ensure flooding problems do not get worse and land in rural areas recovers as quickly as possible.

Meurig Raymond, NFU deputy president, said the Christmas and New Year floods had reinforced the need to ensure a balance between Government investment in larger capital flood defence projects, that primarily serve urban areas, and funding for river maintenance.

He said: “Investment is needed to increase the capacity of the pumps to help clear flood water quickly.

“Without adequate funding to maintain waterways, flooding problems will only increase.

The NFU recognises the amount of funding available is limited, but £20m spent annually on river maintenance is not enough to do the job effectively.

“While the Government’s announcement of an additional £5m for flood risk maintenance in 2015-16 has been welcome, on its own it cannot make up for many years of reductions in the Environment Agency’s budget which funds staff, maintenance work and flood warnings.

“The Environment Agency’s annual flood risk management budget will be nearly £50m less in 2014-15 than in 2010-11.”