George Monbiot© Geoffrey Swaine/Rex Shutterstock

Environmental campaigner George Monbiot has been criticised by farmers for claiming that it is farming practices that have led to the devastating floods in Cumbria.

In an article for The Guardian, Mr Monbiot suggested that rivers “that have been dredged and canalised to protect farmland rush the water instead into the nearest town.”

He argued that if there was more vegetation on the hills, in particular trees, this would help rain to percolate into the ground more effectively, rather than flashing off the surface.

He also called for less dredging of waterways, so rivers were allowed to accumulate logs and stones.  

The piece has won considerable support on social media with more than 5,000 people sharing it on Twitter, with many indicating they are in agreement.

However, farmers and local politicians have expressed their dismay at the comments, which they claim are ill-timed and anti-farming.

It is not the first time that Mr Monbiot has angered the farming community with his comments about agriculture.

He has repeatedly suggested that overgrazing is a problem in the uplands and called for sheep numbers to be reduced so that areas can be rewilded.

He is also the founder of a charity called Rewilding Britain, which would like to see the reintroduction of controversial species such as beaver, boar, lynx and wolf to the British countryside.

In an interview with BBC Radio 4’s Today programme on Tuesday (8 December), Mr Monbiot insisted that he was “not at all blaming farmers” as they were responding to the policy framework in place.