East Yorkshire farmers fear thousands of acres of arable land will disappear under several feet of water for months at a time as part of a flood development plan (PDF).
The proposals, drawn up by the Environment Agency in an attempt to stop Hull from flooding, would see farmland used as “sacrifice” ground.
More than 300 people attended a public meeting at Beeford near Driffield this week to hear an update on the scheme, which threatens to destroy crops and could lead to the substantial devaluation of land values in the area.
Philip Meadley, who farms 550 acres of arable land at Grange Farm, North Frodingham, said farmers whose land was ear-marked for flooding would be driven out of business if their crops were under constant risk of being submerged as the River Hull was allowed to flood on to farmland.
“This scheme is total madness. The entire acreage of some farms will disappear at least half of the year,” he said.
“We’re being forced to sacrifice our income by allowing our crops to be under water for months on end without any compensation.
“No matter what time of year the flooding occurs it will do irreparable damage to the way we farm.”
Mr Meadley told the meeting the EA underestimated the impact of allowing water to flood farmland and that farmers did not believe the plan would save Hull from flood damage.
“Last summer’s June rainfall saw large areas of arable land under water for over six weeks – not the two weeks the Environment Agency has suggested.
“Some farms had water so deep it was within a few inches of the tops of five-barred gates so it’s clear the Environment Agency has no idea how serious this will be for farming in this area.”
Richard Ellison, regional director, NFU North East said farmers and residents felt their concerns over flooding were being ignored.
“Farmers feel they are being sacrificed and it’s utterly unacceptable. Farmers have the NFU’s full support in calls for the Flood Management Plan to be suspended and for the EA to go back to the drawing board.”
Victoria Patterson, EA Hull Strategy Project Manager, said: “We have to follow the national guidelines for valuing agricultural land set out for us by the Government. We recognise this is unpopular but it is the method of appraisal in line with current DEFRA guidelines.
“We can’t predict exactly when the potential flood storage areas will be needed but would support farmers in looking at different methods of land management to minimise the impact of flooding.