The River Hull Strategy and long term issues with maintenance and management of the whole catchment area were top of the agenda when 20 farmers from Driffield and the NFU met with local MP Sir Greg Knight and MEP Timothy Kirkhope.
Farmers raised the issue of the sunken barge vessels that remain in the River Hull and continue to restrict the water flow and capacity of the watercourse.
In response, Sir Greg said it was important to pursue the River Hull Strategy with vigour and that he would be doing so with parliamentary colleagues. He was firmly of the view that farmers, as well as home owners, should be considered when flood defences were being planned.
“Having met with local farmers, I understand that whilst the recent floods didn’t badly affect East Yorkshire they highlighted the need for East Riding of Yorkshire Council, the Environment Agency and other stakeholders to progress with the outcomes of the River Hull Strategy,” he said. “I think there is a strong case now to push the government for a monetary commitment to more river maintenance.”
Other issues raised at the meeting included the delays in Basic Payment Scheme payments and the effect this is having on the agricultural industry and wider rural economy. Farmers also raised frustrations at the complexity of Natural England’s new Countryside Stewardship Scheme. This complexity, they argued makes the scheme very inaccessible and as a result, there has been incredibly low uptake nationally.
Timothy Kirkhope MEP used the opportunity to talk about the the Agricultural Markets Task Force, designed to support farmers in their dealings with the food supply chain.
After the meeting, NFU Group Secretary Andrew Scott said: “We had a great turnout of local members and this gave them the chance to raise flooding and other issues directly with their MP and MEP,” he said.
“Such meetings are always useful and we are lucky to have the opportunity to discuss key farming issues on a regular basis with our elected representatives.”