Frustrated cattle farmer's fields flooded since Christmas
- Credit: Danielle Booden
A Norfolk cattle farmer criticised a lack of action from river authorities after heavy rains and snowfalls left fields in the Wensum valley flooded since Christmas.
Peter Howell, of E Howell and Sons based at Bintree near Fakenham, says his animals could lose six weeks of grazing time this spring as 120 acres of land near Guist are still saturated.
He said such severe weather and flooding have become commonplace in a changing climate, but he claims the Environment Agency has done nothing to improve the situation - despite his farm's £5,500 payment in drainage rates.
The agency said general drainage charges paid by landowners help fund national maintenance of priority flood and coastal "risk assets" - but floodplains such as the land alongside the Wensum would naturally be susceptible to winter flooding.
Mr Howell said: "The land has been flooded since just after Christmas. It is receding now, but it will leave the level so high.
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"All the grazing marshes in the Wensum Valley have been affected. We won't be grazing now before probably the middle of May. It would usually be the end of March, so we will lose six weeks of grazing.
"The river board used to keep the river clean but since the EA took it over they don't spend anything on drainage. They have taken £5,500 drainage rates off my son and I but they won't do anything about it.
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"This is a recurring flood now. The climate is definitely changing , and they have got to change with it. It is no good saying they cannot do it."
An Environment Agency spokesperson said: “After months of prolonged rainfall river catchments across East Anglia are saturated.
"With a succession of storms in January and early February, there is limited capacity in the rivers to drain flood waters away, making standing water across the region a common sight.
“Floodplain, such as the land that surrounds the River Wensum, is by its very nature susceptible to flooding during the winter months.”
The agency says many farms benefit from investment in flood and coastal defences. Between 2015 and 2021, it says flooding and coastal change projects will have increased protection for more than 280,000 hectares of agricultural land, helping to avoid more than £500m of economic damage.