Land has a part to play in lowering flood risks

The Conservative Party is developing policies that would see large tracts of farmland designated flood plain for use during the onset of heavy flooding, according to shadow DEFRA secretary Peter Ainsworth.

Speaking at an Environment Agency fringe meeting which considered how a variety of measures could be used to deal with the consequences of climate change, Mr Ainsworth said the Conservative Quality of Life Review Group was working on a range policies that would seek to alleviate the impact of flooding on urban areas. This included the deliberate flooding of some farmland.

EA chief executive Barbara Young steered clear of giving outright support for the Tory suggestion, but hinted that farmland may have to play a wider role in minimising the impact any future floods have on large conurbations.

She also said the government should get behind environmental policies that seek to prepare the uplands as wildlife retreats so that susceptible species can relocate to more suitable areas as the affects of climate change become more apparent.

Asked if she agreed with recent remarks made by Gordon Brown that there is a case for reviewing the amount of environmental legislation covering farming, the former chief executive of the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds said it was “always surprising how much political sway farming groups have with a new Prime Minister regardless of how tough they said they would be before coming into the job”.

But she did concede that recent events meant it was tough for farmers at the moment.

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