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Farmers raise concerns about farmland flooding at Thirsk meeting
12:54pm Friday 1st March 2013 in News
RENEWED calls for maintenance of rivers and drainage ditches have been made as many North Yorkshire farms struggle with repeated flooding of farmland.
Yorkshire area manager for the Environment Agency, Mark Scott, recently met with farmers to answer questions about repeated flooding of farmland, in a meeting organised by the MP for Thirsk, Malton and Filey, Anne McIntosh in Thirsk.
They were pushing for an improved arrangement for river maintenance as months of exceptionally heavy rain has hit productive farmland particularly badly.
At the meeting, held at Thirsk Rural Business Centre, Ms McIntosh said in one area of her constituency a group of farmers and landowners in the Vale of Pickering were paying £60,000 a year via the Internal Drainage Board to the Environment Agency for river maintenance. But there was no assurance that money was being spent on rivers that threatened their own farmland.
She was calling for the money to be ring-fenced for local flood defence work. She said: “If that work isn’t done then water comes back up the minor channels and spills out on to farmland. They’re paying this money and they don’t see it back in the rural areas.”
Mr Scott said they would consider localised flooding projects if land could be found that provided ‘multiple benefit’. But he said simply dredging river beds was not a solution to flooding.
He explained that deepening the river bed reduced the velocity of the river and the slower flow of water scoured silt from the riverbed less effectively.
He said they also had to prioritise where they concentrated their resources.
He said: “We have not stopped dredging but we concentrate dredging now to where we can clearly demonstrate there’s a flood risk benefit.”