7 August 1998

Capitulate to sea, says committee

LOW-LYING farmland in East Anglia and southern England should be abandoned to the sea because flood defences are a waste of taxpayers money, say MPs.

The Agriculture Select Committee called for "an end to the centuries-old war with the sea … and a peaceful accommodation with our former enemy".

Its report added that Britain grows too much food anyway, and can afford to lose these areas to flooding.

On a slightly brighter note, the committee recommended that "suitable compensation arrangements" should be made to those farmers who lose out. The report did not estimate how much land would be lost but said it did not amount to "thousands of hectares".

But the NFU blasted the committees recommendations saying it was deeply concerned that farmers would be left to the mercy of the sea.

A spokeswoman said: "We believe this report seriously over-simplifies the issue. We believe a full assessment of the costs and benefits should be made before the government makes such a dramatic change in policy."