‘Dredge the rivers’ demand farmers at risk after floods

Bicester Advertiser: Terry Moore says flooding is getting worse every year Terry Moore says flooding is getting worse every year

FARMERS once again left counting the cost of the floods are pinning the blame firmly on the Environment Agency.

They claim rivers and streams are not being dredged or maintained properly, leaving them with ravaged crops and spiralling livestock costs.

Agency officials deny the claims, but now one farmer says he fears for the future of the Otmoor nature reserve, much of which is now underwater for long periods.

Terry Moore, of Otmoor Farm, Horton-cum-Studley, said: “It is getting worse every year. The flooding is really bad this time.

“We expect flood water but what we don’t expect is for it to stay on the ground for months on end, which kills the grass and the crops.”

Last year, Mr Moore spent £10,000 re-seeding his land for cattle.

But he reckons the new pasture will be dead within weeks unless the floods subside and he has reduced his herd from 200 to 50, slashing his only source of income.

Paul Cordwell, who farms at Cross Trees Farm, Sutton Courtenay, said: “The biggest problem is the Environment Agency.

“The River Ock was last dredged in about 1972 and now, for the first time, boats coming to Abingdon are running aground.

“Nothing is being done about it all and the flooding is going to get worse. I know how important it is to clear my ditches, but when the river isn’t dredged, the water can’t get away.”

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Mr Cordwell lost 180 acres of wheat to flooding last year and has lost crops every year for the last eight years. Now he has changed from planting a winter wheat crop to a spring variety in a bid to avoid the damage, although his yield will be up to a tonne lower.

Environment Agency spokesman Brenda Gair said maintenance work was planned at key locations including the rivers Ray and Bure and Wendlebury Brook.

But she added: “In many cases, dredging will not reduce the risk of flooding, simply because many rivers quickly silt up again as part of their natural processes.

“We focus our efforts on dredging at those locations where it has a proven benefit of reducing flood risk.

“We want to make it as easy as possible for farmers to undertake appropriate maintenance work on rural watercourses themselves, while ensuring wildlife and the environment are protected.

“We have also met the Otmoor farmers on several occasions to advise them how they can best manage flood risk to their farmland.”

Meanwhile, there were last night two flood warnings still in place in the county – one near Henley and one near Shiplake.

The River Thames is set to remain high and there will be scattered showers in the coming days.

Mr Cordwell added: “Our production will go down at a time when the Government wants us to grow more food.

“We are trying our hardest to make the Environment Agency understand their responsibilities, but they will not connect. They just say we are wrong.”

“And I am just about to apply (to the Environment Agency) to dredge a particular stream, but I know what the answer will be — I can’t because it has water voles in it.”

NOMINATE YOUR HEROES

  • PEOPLE across Oxfordshire have suffered as a result of the recent flooding. And we would now like you to nominate your flood heroes so we can feature them in the Oxford Mail.
  • They could be council officials who have spent hours standing in the cold to pump water away from properties.
  • Or they could be neighbours and community leaders who have made a special effort to help out.
  • You can nominate your hero at oxfordmail.co.uk/news/floodhero or by post to Flood Hero, Oxford Mail, Osney Mead, Oxford, OX2 0EJ with the nominated person’s details, why you are nominating them and your contact details.

Comments (8)

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9:16am Thu 16 Jan 14

rfr says...

Perhaps it would be a good idea for farmers to have an incentive to (re plant trees in places that would reduce rainfall run-off into rivers and therefore reduce the flooding of fields, and not require dredging of rivers (that can actually worsen flooding further downstream)?
Perhaps it would be a good idea for farmers to have an incentive to (re plant trees in places that would reduce rainfall run-off into rivers and therefore reduce the flooding of fields, and not require dredging of rivers (that can actually worsen flooding further downstream)? rfr

10:02am Thu 16 Jan 14

the wizard says...

But she added: “In many cases, dredging will not reduce the risk of flooding, simply because many rivers quickly silt up again as part of their natural processes.

Which is why when historically Thames Conservency maintained and dredged the waterways we suffered far less flooding, and that was when we had "proper winters" snowfall as well and floods were rare. It is about time Thames Water got its act together along with the Env.Acy and got to grips with this now annual event. Its not "OK" to hide hide behind global warming and other such excuses. they know the weather pattern has changed, so why are they not more pro active in putting measures in place to prevent the excesses. It seems that we can get flooded as long as London is not. That is now totally un acceptable. And to top the lot Thames water want us to subsidize the building of the new London sewer through our water rates. Its about time the water companies were took back into state ownership to get some priorities sorted out. Blair, Brown and Cameron have all failed to get these issues sorted, but they can find time to start and fund wars abroad. Time for the money to be spent here, looking after our own people instead of meddling with affairs abroad. Charity starts at home, and that is where the focus should be.
But she added: “In many cases, dredging will not reduce the risk of flooding, simply because many rivers quickly silt up again as part of their natural processes. Which is why when historically Thames Conservency maintained and dredged the waterways we suffered far less flooding, and that was when we had "proper winters" snowfall as well and floods were rare. It is about time Thames Water got its act together along with the Env.Acy and got to grips with this now annual event. Its not "OK" to hide hide behind global warming and other such excuses. they know the weather pattern has changed, so why are they not more pro active in putting measures in place to prevent the excesses. It seems that we can get flooded as long as London is not. That is now totally un acceptable. And to top the lot Thames water want us to subsidize the building of the new London sewer through our water rates. Its about time the water companies were took back into state ownership to get some priorities sorted out. Blair, Brown and Cameron have all failed to get these issues sorted, but they can find time to start and fund wars abroad. Time for the money to be spent here, looking after our own people instead of meddling with affairs abroad. Charity starts at home, and that is where the focus should be. the wizard

11:47am Thu 16 Jan 14

Inkpot says...

EA's Brenda Gair shouldn't need to be told that rivers subject to silting have to be dredged regularly, as was done many years ago, otherwise the river becomes more and more shallow, and holds less and less water.
This current policy is purely a means of saving money due to the "short termism" that has crept into so many public bodies over the last 20 years.
EA's Brenda Gair shouldn't need to be told that rivers subject to silting have to be dredged regularly, as was done many years ago, otherwise the river becomes more and more shallow, and holds less and less water. This current policy is purely a means of saving money due to the "short termism" that has crept into so many public bodies over the last 20 years. Inkpot

12:31pm Thu 16 Jan 14

CupHalfFull says...

The trouble is that the faster the water flows off the farmers fields, the shorter and more intense the storm surge travelling down the rivers, and the greater the devastation to built up areas. Surely the best thing is for farmers to be compensated properly for managing their land as water meadows that will hold water when the need arises.
The trouble is that the faster the water flows off the farmers fields, the shorter and more intense the storm surge travelling down the rivers, and the greater the devastation to built up areas. Surely the best thing is for farmers to be compensated properly for managing their land as water meadows that will hold water when the need arises. CupHalfFull

12:38pm Thu 16 Jan 14

to ny w says...

I magine what water would have hit Kidlington and Oxford and lower down if the bridge at Lower Heyford hadnt held back so much water. Man made restrictions can help in certian areas.
I magine what water would have hit Kidlington and Oxford and lower down if the bridge at Lower Heyford hadnt held back so much water. Man made restrictions can help in certian areas. to ny w

9:04pm Thu 16 Jan 14

yabbadabbadoo256 says...

What is needed is a national network of American style storm drains, designed to carry large volumes of water away in the event of flooding. Again something that would cost money, generate jobs for the economy but Dont see the condems doing something like this
What is needed is a national network of American style storm drains, designed to carry large volumes of water away in the event of flooding. Again something that would cost money, generate jobs for the economy but Dont see the condems doing something like this yabbadabbadoo256

9:43am Fri 17 Jan 14

CupHalfFull says...

Yabba

you could not be more wrong,
Yabba you could not be more wrong, CupHalfFull

8:27am Tue 28 Jan 14

opollo says...

They say dredging wont work cos they dont want to spend anything, government should be telling water companies to do it and maintain them properly. Ditiches in fields used to be done by the farmers, but the water companies said that they would do them and have they??? No they havent, just like the dredging of rivers, rivers are rising faster cos the rivers are full of silt and need to be dredged, if they dont do it we get no food, its as simple as that!
They say dredging wont work cos they dont want to spend anything, government should be telling water companies to do it and maintain them properly. Ditiches in fields used to be done by the farmers, but the water companies said that they would do them and have they??? No they havent, just like the dredging of rivers, rivers are rising faster cos the rivers are full of silt and need to be dredged, if they dont do it we get no food, its as simple as that! opollo

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