Select Committee on Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Written Evidence

Memorandum submitted by Sir Peter Tapsell MP (FL MP 14)

  Thank you for your letter dated 24th July.

  I did have an exchange of correspondence with Anne McIntosh MP about the flooding of agricultural land.

  However, although for each individual household which is flooded it is a disaster for the family, the scale of flooding in my constituency was fortunately in no way comparable with Hull or the West Country.

  I naturally visited many of the flooded properties at the time and have since had much correspondence with the Environment Agency and my local Councils, but I do not think that I have any information or ideas to put to you that will not have already reached you from many other sources.

  There is, as you will have been told, a widespread belief that drains and rivers are not kept as clear of obstruction as they were some years ago before the Environment Agency assumed responsibility for this. I have no way of checking on the truth of this.

  Secondly, it has been suggested to me that modern agricultural methods, particularly because of fertilisers and new machinery, have meant that many fields adjoining rivers which, "in the old days", were regarded as water meadows and could be used as flood plains (if locks were in place and working) now have crops growing right to the river banks. Deliberately to create potential flood plains above river from market towns such as Louth and Horncastle (in my constituency) would be deeply unpopular with farmers. This problem could, perhaps, be overcome by paying the same subsidy for "water meadows" which are kept permanently under grass for Summer grazing if the same level of subsidy was paid to the farmer as for acreage growing cereals or root crops?

Sir Peter Tapsell MP

Louth and Horncastle

August 2007

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