A flood-hit farmer says he is still waiting to hear from the Environment Agency – three days after his farm was cut off by rising water in Lincolnshire.
Henry Ward’s farmstead at Short Ferry, near Stainfield, remains surrounded by water after the Barlings Eau watercourse burst its banks on Saturday (9 November).
The breach flooded four farms, Mr Ward told Farmers Weekly.
“The water levels rose rapidly during Saturday and Sunday – we’ve had another 15mm of rain since then and the levels have shot up again.”
This Lincolnshire farm has been cut off by flood water after the Barlings Eau burst its banks. Full report coming soon from our chief reporter @johanntasker. #flooding #farminguk pic.twitter.com/RaiZT7YBSc
— Farmers Weekly (@FarmersWeekly) November 12, 2019
The watercourse is a tributary of the River Witham, about 10 miles east of Lincoln.
Speaking on Tuesday (12 November), Mr Ward said he had still not heard from the Environment Agency, which is responsible for the water catchment.
“As of this exact time, we have heard nothing from the Environment Agency,” he said – despite footage of the flood-hit farm featuring in the national media.
Mr Ward said he agreed that saving people’s homes and residential properties from flooding should take priority over farmland – but not at a cost to farmers.
Unless the river flooded, parts of Lincoln – including Stamp End and Monk’s Road – and the nearby village of Langworth would be swamped by water, he said.
“We have taken that water free of charge – if the Environment Agency need more flood plains, they need to put their money where their mouth is and pay farmers for providing them.”
At the moment, farmland was being used as free water storage – without any recognition that doing so affected farmers’ livelihoods.
“It is very frustrating,” said Mr Ward. “All our land is under water,” he added. “We have been out in a boat to the farmhouse and we think it is well over six foot deep.”
Mr Ward said his father Joe had been mindful of flooding when the house was built – it was constructed so its ground floor is above the level of the riverbank.
This meant the water was still four brick courses below the door. But the farm was still cut off by water and the only way to it was by boat.
— Andrew Ward 🇬🇧🚜 🥛🥩 (@wheat_daddy) November 12, 2019
“We have seen flooding so high but we’ve never seen the water level so high. Luckily there were no livestock in the sheds. The top shed isn’t flooded but the others are.”
“It is right that homes are top of the priority list, but this is having a big impact on our business and it simply can’t carry on – we’ve lost a year’s cropping.”
Farmers Weekly has asked the Environment Agency what it is doing to help Mr Ward – and other flood-hit farmers across the East Midlands and Yorkshire.
The agency says it is monitoring the breach location, and will be working with the Internal Drainage Board to pump the water back into surrounding river channels.
But it warns: “It will be several days before levels in the Low Barlings area and River Witham fall sufficiently enough for the water to be pumped back successfully into the rivers.”
‘Flood storage areas’
In total, the agency says some 13,500 properties have been protected by flood defences since the floods started last Thursday (7 November).
This includes almost 5,000 properties in South Yorkshire, with flood storage areas in operation to protect 7,000 homes in parts of Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire and Lincolnshire.
The agency says it is better prepared than ever to protect properties and homes in flood-affected areas, with staff working around the clock to reduce flood risk and keep communities safe.
It says agency field teams are continuing to work 24/7 to clear debris from rivers, operate flood storage areas and pump away flood water.