Paul gave an illustrated presentation and subsequent discussion on how farmers are being heavily penalised and their very livelihood threatened by the past and current destructive policies of the Environment Agency. The illustrated images clearly identified results of the EA destructive policies and its negative attitude that the agency knows best. By way of ‘wilding’ water channels, habitats, vegetation and even healthy 100 – 150 year old mature Oak trees are dying due to raised water levels and causing root deterioration. One farmer in particular explained that having inherited the family farm he is now a witness to his heritage being progressively destroyed where land previously fertile and productive is now waterlogged and non-productive.
Others explained that observation of EA field working practices illustrated comprehensively how their project planning is not thought through and causing more destruction than good.
The meeting then opened up to how all Cumbria Action Groups need to come together as one voice.
Paul explained to the gathering that he is now aligned to the Carlisle Flood Action Group and its stance on EA relieved of its flood responsibilities in-line with the recent EFRA Committee Report HC115 ‘Future Flood Prevention’. As a consequence there has now been an upsurge of connectivity from other groups, witness a further meeting to be reported by John Kelsall regarding a direct meeting arranged for 7th February with the EFRA Committee at the House of Commons.
As an aside to farming, we were informed by the lady from Workington who has arranged gravel removal from the Derwent, how she challenged the EA and gained a license, and not only that arranged with a contractor to remove the gravel at no-charge as long as he could sell the gravel.
A brilliant example of tenacity of the highest order despite all the pit-falls put in her way.
There is now a big message as Carlisle FLAG has reported the task in hand of massive proportions is undoing the river and water channel miss management carried out over the last 30 plus years.
CFLAG report identifies clearly for the River Eden Catchment Area a progressive incremental approach to alleviation of the water channels of their restrictions one by one in an ordered, planned and costed manner restoring the channels to their former healthy state for both people and habitats. Indeed the Environment Agency must also be relieved of any direct involvement with rivers and waterways per se and returned to former professional water management.
Paul Barnes’s efforts with the farming community are invaluable, and openly welcomed. Together Cumbria Flood Action Groups must unite together and act nationally with one voice to achieve what many consider impossible. I believe the walls are beginning to crumble.
As some serious Xmas reading please down load from the Environment, Farming, and Rural Affairs Committee [EFRA] web-site and read the EFRA Report HC115 of the 2nd November 2016 entitled ‘Future Flood Prevention’. In particular on page 3 ‘Summary’–‘A new model for managing flood risk’, and page 49 onwards – ‘Published written evidence’ on page 49 – 53, some 140 items. It may come as a big surprise to discover our Cumbrian thinking of the way forward is echoed in many of the submissions. I strongly recommend reading 126, 127 Upper Calder Valley and 57 Leader – National Flood Prevention Party –regarding the River Thames ‘Jubilee River’ project as initial examples.
Next Meeting of all Cumbria Flood Action Groups is 12th January at the Old Fire Station, Penrith.
Carlisle Flood Action Group