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Old 04-01-13, 06:26   #1
 
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No Icon EU Red Tape Causes More Flooding, Destroys Crops

Floods 'Made Worse by Failure to Clear Water Courses'

Floods this year were made worse by a failure to clear water courses, Owen Paterson, the Environment Secretary, has admitted as farmers blamed EU red tape for stopping them removing mud from rivers.




The Met Office has confirmed that last year was the second wettest on record for the UK, just a few millimetres short of the record in 2000

The UK Met Office has confirmed that last year was the second wettest on record for the UK, just a few millimetres short of the record in 2000.

The national forecasters also said that extreme rainfall has become more common in the last few decades, possibly as a consequence of climate change.

Floods caused damage to thousands of properties, as well as destroying crops and causing transport chaos.

Mr Paterson said a number of people have complained to him that failure to clear out rivers and streams made the flooding worse.

“There is a situation out there where water courses are not being cleaned up and getting gummed up," he said. “I have had many people coming to me about this problem.


“I do not want to point the finger of blame. We obviously have a problem – whether it is the Environment Agency, drainage boards or land managers.”

Jim McClaren, of the National Farmers Union, said farmers have to fill in a number of forms under the EU Water Directive before being allowed to clean out rivers.

This can prove so timely and expensive that many let mud build up.

“I recognise that we have had more extreme weather events but a lot of flooding has been caused by water course management," he said.

“European legislation is preventing farmers from using machines to clear rivers out.”

There is also concern that funding has been cut for clearing river courses, in favour of spending on more high profile flood defences.

The latest Government statistics show spending on big capital projects will remain static at around £259m throughout the four year spending period.

However ‘maintenance spend’ at the Environment Agency fell from £108.1M in 2010/11 to £84m in 2011/12 and is set to fall further to £60.7M by 2014/15.

Mr Paterson promised to look at whether the EU legislation is causing problems as well as funding levels.

He also said he would look at setting up a tax-free fund to help farmers cope with floods when subsidies come to an end.

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