Flood warnings remain as farmers begin cleanup

More than 60 flood warnings remained in place today (Thursday 27 September) as farmers began the cleanup operation after the worst September storms for 30 years.

The Environment Agency urged farmers in Yorkshire and Cheshire to stay alert and prepare for the risk of flooding, even though the worst of the rainfall has now passed.

An agency spokesman said: “Some rivers across the north of England, including the Ouse, which runs through York, and the Dane, which flows through Crewe, Nantwich and Northwich, have yet to peak and still pose a real risk of flooding.

“We’re closely monitoring other rivers including the Weaver, Wharfe, Aire and Ure, as high river levels threaten to cause further flooding in towns such as Ripon, Snaith, Northwich and Tadcaster.”

North Yorkshire AICC agronomist James Machin said on Thursday (27 September) that fields located near rivers were worst affected.

“I have walked some fields this morning next to rivers and one field in particular is pretty much under water,” said Mr Machin.

“Some of the larger fields have been drilled with oilseed rape and some corners are under water.”

It now looked very likely that some farmers would not be able to drill cereals on heavy land this autumn as the ground was too wet, he added.

“There’s not a lot of cereals drilled at all and farmers are desperate to get things in the ground,” said Mr Machin.

“But the window is short and we’re running out of time. We really need some breezy weather and sunshine to help us out.”

Andrew Crewdson, farm manager of Blagdon Estate, near Seaton Burn, Newcastle upon Tyne, said the River Blyth had burst its banks and flooded 100ha of the farm’s land.

“It flooded two fields of straw we cut and bailed and moved them on to the next two fields, which we had drilled with wheat,” he said.

“We have got about 100 straw bales still bobbing about in the river. It’s horrendous.”

Mr Crewdson said most of the flooding had gone today (Thursday), but there were small pools of water everywhere.

“We drilled some wheat and barley and that had a pre-emergence herbicide, but I doubt that did a lot of good,” he said.

“Now it’s a question of how long we’ve got until the land can become travelable and workable again.”

From Sunday (23 September) to Tuesday (25 September), 105mm of rainfall fell at Blagdon Estate – more than double the average monthly rainfall for September.

“To have got that amount of rain in such a short time is terrible,” said Mr Crewdson.

“These floods are worse than those we had in 2008 – at least then the ground was dry when the rain came, but this time it was already completely soaked.”

Rural insurer NFU Mutual said it had put in place emergency procedures to help farmers cope with the floods.

An NFU Mutual spokesman said: “We’re currently helping more than 200 members who have suffered flooding damage.

“The majority of claims so far are for water damage to the ground floor of homes, together with some claims for damage to farm buildings, other commercial premises and vehicles which have been caught in floods.

“So far the most serious damage reported is to commercial premises in the North East, where the repair bill could top £30,000.”

The Met Office said most areas would see less intense rainfall over the next few days and into the weekend, with sunshine and showers forecast for most regions.

More on this topic

Add your flood images to our Wet Weather Gallery

Drilling plans in chaos after floods

Philip Case on G+

See more