Farmers urge Government to target flooding ‘for once and for all’
While the focus was on the flooding of coastal areas earlier this week, the heavy rain of recent days has led to flooding of farm land around rivers and lakes
Cattle at James Winslade’s farm wait to be fed in Moorland in Somerset, England. The third-generation farmer, whose family has been farming the area for 150 years, calculates 94 percent of his farmland is under water. Photograph: Matt Cardy/Getty Images
While the focus was on the flooding of coastal areas earlier this week, the heavy rain of recent days has led to flooding of farm land around rivers and lakes.
“At this time of year a lot of rivers have areas that they flood out on to, but it’s much more marked as a consequence of this weather. People are fearful. I don’t think there is a river in the country that hasn’t effectively burst its banks in some part.”
He said water was a problem everywhere.
“Today I got calls from everywhere from Mountmellick in Laois to Cavan. Just now I talked to a guy in Newcastle in south Tipperary on the Waterford border and he said they had never seen flooding like it in the village.”
He was speaking after he and IFA president Eddie Downey met Minister of State for the Office of Public Works Brian Hayes to discuss farmers’ concerns about flooding.
Mr Turley said in years gone by the Board of Works, now known as the OPW, assigned staff to look after particular rivers during the winter. They dredged them and removed obstacles to reduce the risk of flooding.
“We have to put in place a maintenance programme for the main rivers. This has to be tackled for once and for all. The last thing we want is the commissioning of another report.”
Mr Downey said he got a commitment at his meeting with Mr Hayes that the minor work schemes funded by the OPW would be used to protect farm land as well as urban areas.
“It is up to local authorities to draw up projects with local farmers which have an impact in protecting both farmland and dwellings in rural areas,” Mr Downey said.
Thousands of farmers in coastal areas have lost fields to rock and debris from the sea in recent days.
An assessment by the IFA in Co Mayo has estimated that up to 1,000 hectares of land is affected.
Mr Downey said this land would need remedial works over the next number of months to bring it back to its former state.
He said an assessment commissioned by the Government would determine what was required to get the land back to its original state.
“Also, remedial works and sea defences will have to be strengthened, and this analysis will feed into works that need to urgently be carried out by local authorities,” said Mr Downey.