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  • "
    carfax wrote:
    So it has been 30 years without proper bsaic maintenance (dredging, desilting, etc) of waterways ... so that would be the late Margaret Thatcher, alumni of Oxford University, who cut the Environment Agency Budget during her time putting UK finances in order ... budget cuts that it appears were never reversed. So all politicians since ~1980, especially those in charge during our boom years, are guilty of disregarding the important role of the Environment Agency, including their historic teams of volunteers, and allowing the contributary causes of flooding to remain unchecked. Thanks one and all. Environment Agency please speak up about your budgets - what level would make it, adjusted for inflation,etc) equivalent to 1979 levels? That would be a starting point.
    The Environmental Agency (EA) has an annual budget of approximately £850 million. Where did the money go ? It has 11200 staff, the second largest in the world, just smaller than its counterpart in the USA with 15913 staff but EA manages a very much smaller area in comparison. Last year, it spent about £600 million on staff salary and pension and £220 million on capital projects, of which only £20 million on maintaining rivers. £2.7 million was spent on PR.

    In the flooded Somerset, the EA allocated £31 million for a bird sanctuary but could not afford £4 million for dredging the river. In the flooded Thames area, the river was not dredged in case a rare mollusc was disturbed.

    Moreover, the EA was advised by our Met Office who always maintain that we are going to have milder and dryer winters in the coming future because of climate change and accordingly flooding would seem very unlikely so dredging rivers to prevent flooding would be a waste of money.

    As long as the EA and Met Office are living in their own world of fantasy, no amount of money can solve our existing problems."
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'Two years of misery ahead' is grim flooding prediction

David Cameron visits farmer Tim Hook at his flooded fields near Bampton

Buy this photo David Cameron visits farmer Tim Hook at his flooded fields near Bampton

First published in News
Last updated
Oxford Mail: Photograph of the Author by , Education Reporter, also covering West Oxford. Call me on (01865) 425437

A FARMER told the Prime Minister yesterday the floods will hit incomes in the agriculture industry for the next two years.

David Cameron was given a tour of Cote Lodge Farm, near Bampton, yesterday afternoon where he met Tim Hook and saw the impact the past month’s rain has had in his Witney constituency.

The PM hoped there would be help for farmers in Oxfordshire affected by the flooding – and accepted criticisms not enough waterways had been dredged in recent years.

Standing in one of flooded fields as they were battered by wind and rain, Mr Hook told Mr Cameron damage to thousands of acres of crops in the county will take until at least the winter of 2015 to recover. And he confided he is facing a substantial loss to his business.

Mr Hook said the PM made no specific promises to him, but said he hoped he would consider some of the ideas he put forward.

Mr Cameron told the Oxford Mail farmers in the county could benefit from a £10m pot that was being put aside to help farmers across the UK.

Mr Cameron said: “First of all, we have got to get back to sensible use of dredging. The pendulum has swung too far against dredging in the late 1990s, but we will change that.

He said there had been some dredging, such as under the bridge on Bridge Street in Witney.

“Actually the reasons why Witney has not flooded nearly as bad as last time is that, this time, dredging was done under the bridge,” he said.

“So more dredging is part of the answer.

“We are also going to provide this £10m fund to provide farmers like Mr Hook, whose farm has been under water for week after week, and sadly year after year.

“The £10m is for farmers across the country and it is there to help farmers who have land under water and make the land good again when the water has receded. I think Oxfordshire will get help.

“Thames Valley has been one of the worst affected areas and farmers have had to put up with their land being covered in water week after week.”

Mr Cameron also said yesterday he may ask the European Union to pick up some of the bill to deal with the nation’s flooding problems.

He said there were drawbacks to the European Solidarity Fund, but promised to “look at it” after a cabinet row broke out over whether or not to ask for cash.

But Mr Hook said more needed to be done to dredge waterways.

He said: “He listened to our concerns and issues about how we are struggling and he seemed to get the point I was trying to get across. We just hope there will be action and he will carry through with our ideas.

“We need better management of the major watercourses – desilting, some dredging, culvert cleaning – which has been absent for 30 years.”

He added: “We expect flooding for about two to three weeks a year, but when it is standing for eight weeks and longer, it becomes very difficult for us.”

Farmers across Oxfordshire agreed with the sentiment.

Paul Caudwell, from Cross Trees Farm, in Sutton Courtenay, said he had met his MP Ed Vaizey to talk about how he has around 200 acres of flooded farmland.

“When you are growing arable crops like wheat, if it’s under water for more than 10 days it’s dead, that’s it,” he said. “We have probably lost around 180 acres of wheat and we are just going to have to take that hit.”

Oxford Mail:

  • Major Rob Futter, with Ian Hudspeth, centre, Oxfordshire County Council leader, and Matthew Barber, Vale of White Horse Council leader, oversee the work


WORK started last night on a 750m-long concrete wall in South Hinksey to hold back the water.

Eighty military personnel were deployed to South Hinksey from Dalton Barracks to help move the 2.5-tonne blocks into place along the southern side of the village.

Environment Agency staff are co-ordinating the operation from a temporary command centre in the village hall and work is expected to last until tomorrow.

Oxford Mail:

  • The troops get to work

Firefighters are also at the scene to pump water out of the village, over the metre-high wall, if necessary.

As a result of the operation, the Devil’s Backbone pathway will be closed and a brook will have to be dammed.

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