South West Norfolk MP Elizabeth Truss has welcomed this week’s report by the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Commons Select Committee on the recommendation that the government review the policy on how it distributes funds for flood defences to take more account of the ‘economic and social value of agricultural land.’
The report also urges the Environment Agency (EA) and Internal Drainage Boards (IDBs) to work more closely together on flood prevention and river maintenance. This is something Elizabeth has been lobbying the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs on for some time. Last year she held a meeting in Hockwold with the Environment Agency and local farmers to raise concerns about the lack of maintenance on the River Wissey and loss of farmland to flooding. Elizabeth held a further Flood Summit in May 2014 in Downham Market, in her South West Norfolk constituency, when the Head of DEFRA’s National Flood team confirmed that after sustained lobbying by MPs, including Elizabeth, the Secretary of State is reconsidering the value of agricultural land when assessing flood schemes.
Elizabeth Truss MP commented – ‘This week’s announcement by the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs committee echos very much the case I have been making to the government that farmland is not valued high enough compared to residential and business premises when assessing flood schemes. Equally the call for the Environment Agency to work more closely with the internal drainage boards is a logical step. The IDBs have fantastic local knowledge, their expertise on the ground is invaluable and closer collaboration can only be a positive step. This is something that I discussed with both the EA and IDBs during May’s flood summit that I held in South West Norfolk and all agreed that this is the way forward.’