Agri-Shop Ltd
Farminguk
24 August 2016 | Online since 2003
Auto Trader Ltd


11 February 2014 11:42:13 |News

West Lancashire at risk of being next Somerset Levels for the sake of the cost of a takeaway


Unless an Internal Drainage Board is established in the West Lancashire area soon, within the next ten years the catchment is at real risk of flooding to a similar devastating degree as is currently being seen on the Somerset Levels.
For the past two years, the NFU has been the leading voice in trying to set up an Internal Drainage Board (IDB) which would take over much of the maintenance work that has historically been carried out by the Environment Agency (EA). With the EA’s budget squeezed, it has not been able to carry out the level of drainage maintenance required for a number of years. The NFU knows that in total last year, only £20 million was spent across the whole on river de-silting and de-weeding by the Environment Agency.
An IDB would maintain ditches, pumping stations and provide a habitat for wildlife in the catchment. Obviously, a body such as this would come at a cost. A substantial chunk of that would be borne by landowners such as farmers and the rest by local authorities – and there lies the sticking point.
For every business and householder to contribute to the running of an IDB, it would mean an extra charge on council tax, a proposal West Lancashire Borough Council isn’t even prepared to discuss at this present time for political reasons.
Dave Oakes, NFU North West’s flooding expert and farmer liaison officer who lives in Scarisbrick, estimates that the yearly cost to an average homeowner in the West Lancashire area would be similar to that of a takeaway or round of drinks in the pub.
He said: “With the vast majority of the drainage ditches in West Lancashire travelling through highly productive agricultural fields, it has been left to local farmers to educate their local councils and neighbouring businesses about the need for an IDB.
“For too long this has been seen solely as farming’s problem. The daily images in our newspapers and on our TV screens have brought that fallacy into context. We all have a responsibility to manage water sensibly in West Lancashire to prevent highly productive agricultural land, businesses and homes from suffering the same fate as those in Somerset.”
Dave Oakes was brought out of retirement by the EA and NFU in April 2013 because he’d spent the best part of 38 years managing water flow in the Alt Crossens part of West Lancashire. He is 62 years old and worked for the Environment Agency from 1973 until he took early retirement in 2011. He started off as a manual labourer cutting grass on watercourses with a scythe, worked on tractors, excavators and even became a member of a team which wore breathing apparatus to crawl through tight pipes and culverts to search for blockages.
He then became a team leader in 1996 and looked after maintenance teams at Alt Crossens and the Douglas. So it’s fair to say he’s operated at every level of drainage maintenance and can say with confidence that he’s got his hands dirty in the past.
It has been Mr Oakes’ job to formulate a workable plan for the future. As well as appointing Mr Oakes, the NFU has established five Flood Liaison Action Groups (FLAGs) in the North West region. FLAGs are made up of local farmers with the aim of them to run alongside the steering groups which are made up of representatives from local authorities, United Utilities and Natural England.
Alice Unsworth, NFU North West Environment and Land Use Adviser, added: “This is an issue across the whole of the region and we are trying to provide solutions to benefit the whole community. However, one of the main players continues to refuse to come to the negotiating table – West Lancashire Borough Council. In Cumbria, Allerdale Borough Council support an IDB in the Waver Wampool catchment and South Lakeland Borough Council are on board in the Lyth Valley catchment. In the Alt Crossens we have support from Sefton Metropolitan Borough Council but not West Lancashire Borough Council. Do they really want to allow West Lancashire to flood out of fear of making a potentially unpopular political decision?”
According to Defra national statistics, land within the Lower Alt and Crossens represents a tiny 0.1 per cent of England’s total farmed area yet is estimated to produce nearly 2 per cent of the English vegetable and salad crops and around 1.5 per cent of the total English potato crop. The agriculture and horticulture industry is thought to provide employment for 2,554 people on a full time basis in West Lancashire and Sefton across 435 businesses contributing £230 million of Gross Value Added to products grown within the same area.

Download

0 Comment

loginuserlogo
Name

Please enter your name


Email

Please enter your email

Please enter valid email


Comment

Please enter your comment


Post Comment

Your comment has been submitted successfully. Please wait for admin approval.


Comments

No comments posted yet. Be the first to post a comment


Canada | 24 August 2016
Canadian farmers see bumper wheat crop as rain curbs quality

Canada’s wheat production will rise more than expected this year, adding to a global glut of the grain, while canola output will probably decrease, according to a government report. Wheat output wi...


France | 24 August 2016
Lactalis ready to discuss milk prices with angry French farmers

Europe's largest dairy producer, Lactalis, said on Tuesday it was ready to renegotiate milk prices paid to producers after hundreds of farmers protested outside its headquarters in northwestern France...


Japan | 24 August 2016
Is Japan's wagyu beef bubble bound to burst?

Bad news for high-end beef lovers: Japan’s Wagyu bubble could be on the verge of bursting. Prized Wagyu calves are currently fetching wildly inflated prices, says Nikkei Asian Review, and "If sky-high...


USA | 24 August 2016
Grassley to hold hearing on agriculture mergers next month

Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley said Tuesday he will hold a hearing next month to discuss a wave of consolidation among seed and chemical producers, including the merger of Dow and DuPont. The chairman of...


Kenya | 24 August 2016
Should agriculture be a required school subject?

Despite the grumbling of many frustrated American school kids taking math tests, the broad subjects required in public schools each have firm arguments for their respective inclusion. But that does...



Trending Now

Viewed
Discussed


Top stories you may have missed
FarmingUK
FarmingUK Logo

FarmingUK

The sustained recovery of pig prices since the spring has come at a time wh...


FarmingUK
FarmingUK Logo

FarmingUK

A World Trade Organisation (WTO) panel has declared the Russian import ban ...


FarmingUK
FarmingUK Logo

FarmingUK

A new study has linked oilseed rape crops grown from neonicotinoid-treated ...


FarmingUK
FarmingUK Logo

FarmingUK

Philip Hammond is to guarantee billions of pounds of UK government investme...


FarmingUK
FarmingUK Logo

FarmingUK

Access to the foreign labour market is 'critical', according the chief exec...


FarmingUK
FarmingUK Logo

FarmingUK

The Tenant Farmers Association has said the National Trust's vision for a p...


FarmingUK
FarmingUK Logo

FarmingUK

Ulster farmers will 'not lie down and wave the white flag' when Brexit nego...


FarmingUK
FarmingUK Logo

FarmingUK

The cost of rural crime to the UK economy costs £42.5 million a year, accor...


FarmingUK
FarmingUK Logo

FarmingUK

A young farmers club member from Oxfordshire has created a petition on the ...


FarmingUK
FarmingUK Logo

FarmingUK

The farming sector has reacted negatively to a proposal to reintroduce the ...


closeicon
Username
Password