Tories look at whether farmland should be designated as flood plain

Gaining access to the Conservative Party Conference has proved problematic as Andrew Watts explains on the Food For Thought blog 


The Conservative Party is looking at policies that would designate large tracts of farmland flood plain in an attempt to ensure the nation is better prepared to deal with any future floods like the ones encountered this summer, according to shadow DEFRA secretary Peter Ainsworth.


Speaking at a fringe event sponsored by the Environment Agency at this year’s Party Conference, Mr Ainsworth said the Quality of Life Group was working on a range of proposals that would alleviate the impact of flooding on urban areas.  These including the deliberate flooding of farm land, he said.


His comment received support from fellow panelist and Daily Telegraph columnist Charles Clover who said farmers should receive compensation for the loss of crop.


“There should be an arrangement between farmers and authorities that would allow farmland to utilised as a flood plain, but the system should pay compensation to farmers for theer loss,” he said.


Also on the panel was Environment Agency chief executive Barbara Young who faced questions about the EA’s watercourse management policies.


But she rebuffed any criticism of the EA saying that watercourses were managed on a risk-based approach.


The recent floods were, as the name suggests, flash floods, she said, adding that this meant they were difficult to predict and tackle.


Some watercourses were also deliberately left uncleared to slow the progress of water to an urban area down river, she added.

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