Farmers blame lack of dredging for damage to fields

Bicester Advertiser: Brian Franklin on land at Moorlands Farm in Murcott, near Kidlington, which has been swamped since before Christmas Brian Franklin on land at Moorlands Farm in Murcott, near Kidlington, which has been swamped since before Christmas

FARMERS across Oxfordshire have lost thousands of pounds due to the flooding and are blaming the Environment Agency.

Landowners claim poor management of the waterways has resulted in more than 1,000 acres of land being submerged in West Oxfordshire alone.

One farmer has lost hundreds of acres of crops and says he may have to slaughter his animals.

Brian Franklin, who owns Moorlands Farm in Murcott, near Kidlington, said: “My land has been under water since before Christmas, so the grass is probably ruined.

“That means I have nothing to feed my cattle, so they may have to go as well.

“There’s a hunger crisis in this country, but no-one wants to help the farmers. How else will food get on the table?”

Farmers are blaming a lack of dredging, claiming the waterways have not been properly looked after in decades.

Mr Franklin, 68, added: “The rivers are all bunged up and they all want digging and trimming. The Government keeps saying it hasn’t got any money but prevention is better than cure.

“Instead of spending millions now to try to cure the job, they should have put that into the rivers before and we wouldn’t have these flood problems.”

Tim Hook, 32, owner of Cote Lodge Farm, Bampton, said: “It’s just bad management.

“They need to look after the waterways more – they’ve not dealt with the rivers properly for 30 years.”

Mr Hook insisted farmers were clearing their ditches, and said: “We’ve got our house in order – the Environment Agency needs to do its bit.

“They’re just using the whole of this area as a storage tank.”

The National Farmers’ Union (NFU) is supporting farmers’ claims.

Peter Kendall, NFU president, said: “We must use all the tools available to us and make dredging a priority.

“Declining maintenance in rivers and watercourses and a reduction in investment in pumps and infrastructure is reported across the country.”

But the Environment Agency (EA) says a large part of the waterway maintenance is the responsibility of the farmers themselves. EA spokesman Dan Taylor said: “We want to make it as easy as possible for farmers to maintain rural watercourses themselves.

“In fact, we have been working closely with farmers in Oxfordshire and held workshops to show them how to undertake maintenance of watercourses and reduce the constraints around undertaking their responsibilities.”

Comments (4)

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9:19am Fri 14 Feb 14

Englishman says...

Some Farmers don't help themselves. Nowadays they just scythe the hedge tops and leave the residue to fill up ditches.
Some Farmers don't help themselves. Nowadays they just scythe the hedge tops and leave the residue to fill up ditches. Englishman

10:22am Fri 14 Feb 14

CupHalfFull says...

Trouble is, if they clear the ditches all that happens is that you get a quicker higher storm surge downstream. I do feel sympathy for the farmers, and they should be properly compensated, but the best solution is to have the water lying on the land, or even better soaking down through it to the aquifers.
Trouble is, if they clear the ditches all that happens is that you get a quicker higher storm surge downstream. I do feel sympathy for the farmers, and they should be properly compensated, but the best solution is to have the water lying on the land, or even better soaking down through it to the aquifers. CupHalfFull

12:43pm Fri 14 Feb 14

Geoff Roberts says...

I think it's unfair of farmers to place all blame on the Environment Agency. There doesn't appear to be any evidence to say that dredging would have stopped the problem. It may not have been technically as bad in one way but the land would still be flooded.
I think it's unfair of farmers to place all blame on the Environment Agency. There doesn't appear to be any evidence to say that dredging would have stopped the problem. It may not have been technically as bad in one way but the land would still be flooded. Geoff Roberts

1:00pm Fri 14 Feb 14

King Joke says...

The evidence very much points to the way to prevent acute life/property-threat
ening flooding being to keep the water on fields, rather than run it off quickly into a dredged river to flood a town downstream. Low-lying fields have always flooded; in fact the reason they are good for agriculture is the fertile silt which has been deposited in the floods of previous years.
The evidence very much points to the way to prevent acute life/property-threat ening flooding being to keep the water on fields, rather than run it off quickly into a dredged river to flood a town downstream. Low-lying fields have always flooded; in fact the reason they are good for agriculture is the fertile silt which has been deposited in the floods of previous years. King Joke

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