Defra adviser blames upland farmers for Yorkshire floods

Environmental campaigner Ben Goldsmith has prompted an angry response from farmers after blaming their actions for the North Yorkshire floods.

In March, Mr Goldsmith was appointed by the then-Defra secretary Michael Gove as a non-executive member of Defra’s departmental board.

According to the Met Office, parts of the Yorkshire Dales had 82mm of rainfall in 24 hours on Tuesday (30 July). The monthly average for July is 89mm.

See also: Gove appoints green campaigner to Defra board

In a post on his Twitter account (@BenGoldsmith), Mr Goldsmith embedded a video of flooding this week in the North Yorkshire uplands and commented: “Flooding that so regularly hits parts of Britain [this is Calderdale and Swaledale, Yorkshire] is largely of our own making.

“Britain’s overgrazed, drained, eroded, scorched uplands are simply unable to hold back and store rainfall as nature intended.”

Mr Goldsmith, the son of billionaire James Goldsmith and brother of Conservative MP Zac Goldsmith, then suggested that Mr Gove’s post-Brexit farming policy of paying farmers public money to deliver public goods will “reward farmers in the uplands… for making efforts to hold back rainwater, thereby reducing flooding [and drought]”.

He added: “The change can’t come soon enough.”

Mr Goldsmith has previously suggested the Yorkshire Dales are “bleak and denuded” partly due to sheep, and that Britain has “nothing that any other country would recognise as a real national park”.

According to Defra, non-executive board members are “senior figures from outside government, appointed to provide challenge to government departments”.

Here is a selection of farmer tweets in response to Mr Goldsmith’s latest comments:

Do you have a view on this? Contact the Farmers Weekly newsdesk at: