Government flood policy under attack

Policy on flood defence criticised for failing to recognise role of agriculture and food production.

The Country Land and Business Association (CLA) has claimed that Government policy on flood defence does not recognise the role of agriculture and food production, and has called on Whitehall to recognise farmers' role in mitigating climate change.

CLA deputy president Henry Robinson said: "Those formulating a Government policy on flood defence must begin to recognise the importance of land-based rural businesses, especially in light of increased population growth and climate change."

He said the Environment Agency "is not considering the economic contribution of food production and land-based businesses in any consultation process".

The agency has called for its flood risk management budget to rise by nine per cent between now and 2015 due to growing risks caused by climate change. But the budget is set to be cut by 10 per cent over the period.

Robinson said he looked forward to meeting new energy and climate change minister Ed Davey to press the role of land-based industries in coping with the effects of climate change.

He added: "The CLA supports a 30 percent cut in greenhouse gas emissions by 2020 and we look forward to working with the Department for Energy & Climate Change to further develop and promote on-farm renewable energies."

Rising Frequency

Frequent flooding - defined as once or more every three years - currently affects just 50,000ha of agricultural land in England and Wales. But this is projected to increase fourfold by the 2080s.

Soil erosion due to heavy rainfall is also projected to increase, according to the Climate Change Risk Assessment published by Defra last month.

It added though that climate change could provide a boost to UK growers, including making new crops viable and increasing the range of others.

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