In the wake of recent storms, which saw flooding of acres of farmland in East Yorkshire, Graham Stuart, Member of Parliament for Beverley and Holderness, met with farmers and members of the Beverley and North Holderness IDB (Internal Drainage Board) to discuss possible solutions.
During a wet autumn season, the area was blasted by heavy rains in November and, more recently, Storms Babet and Ciarán in January, all making for a very full River Hull. However, local farmers and members of the IDB believe many of the problems are being caused by obstructions in the river that could be dealt with, such as reeds, fallen trees and sunken boats, while banks need to be rebuilt to specification, pinch points dealt with and silt removed.
The Environment Agency’s principal responsibility is to protect people and property in the first instance, and so farmland tends to come down the list of priorities.
However, at the meeting, Graham learned of plans for a comprehensive and scientific survey of the river which it is hoped will reveal where the real problems lie. The survey has been commissioned by the IDB and involves advanced scanning and photographic techniques to measure the river’s depth and width and its ability to move water down the channel efficiently at times of heavy rainfall. Data collected will be merged with existing information and material gained from a physical boat trip.
Mike Artley, farmer from East Yorkshire and member of the Beverley & North Holderness Internal Drainage Board, said at the meeting: “We have to get all our ducks in a row because we won’t get anywhere unless we satisfy all the criteria of all the consultees. I need to gather all the relevant data and prove to myself that we are onto a winner and I would like to thank everyone here for taking the time to join us at the meeting, and to Graham for organising.”
Graham said after the meeting: “This was a very impressive presentation and gives me hope. It’s probably the best ever demonstration I’ve heard on these issues. If the IDB genuinely can pull together the data from the various sources, we really are getting somewhere.
“This has been going on a long time, and we need a properly funded system, doing as it is supposed to do, with the science right behind it. We should be able to do this within the existing system. If so, it will serve everyone, including the rural community and protect food production by preventing flooding.”
The results of the survey should be available within four to six weeks.