29 March 2002

Farmers fight to save flood barriers

A ROW has erupted between farmers and Gloucester City Council over plans to demolish flood barriers on the banks of the River Severn.

The proposal was suggested by the council in response to a draft flood management plan being drawn up by the Environment Agency. The council argues that new water meadows which would be created next to the river would soak up millions of gallons of water during heavy rain and reduce the threat to local houses.

But it would mean that arable farming along the river banks between the villages of Bushley and Deerhurst would have to end.

Tim Perry, who farms near Bushley, disputes the councils claim that knocking the barriers down would protect local housing. "Destroying the flood banks. wont stop the houses being flooded on the few occasions that they are. In fact, we would end up being flooded all the time.

"The scheme would affect a lot of farmers along the river and they would need compensation if the plan was to go ahead."

Heather Robinson, of Home Farm, Forthampton, said: "It cost a fortune 35 years ago to put up those flood barriers and knocking them down would be a waste of money."

A Gloucester City Council spokesman said: "The land was allowed to flood in the past. But then it was banked off by farmers to create agricultural land, which has passed the flood problem downstream. Knocking the barriers down will alleviate the problem downstream."

A spokesman for the Environment Agency said: "We have to consider what impact the scheme would have on land, farmers and the public in general, and then decide what is the best thing to do." &#42