Industry can play positive role in flood prevention

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The National Sheep Association (NSA) is calling for a holistic and balanced approach to flood mitigation – and one that involves the sheep industry rather than wrongly pointing the finger at a vital part of the land management jigsaw.

NSA has welcomed the acknowledgement last week by Liz Truss, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, that solutions must be guided strongly by local knowledge.

Decentralised decision-making will allow farmers, working with others in their catchment area, to use good, practical knowledge to identify the right options and manage their own land in terms of dredging ditches and clearing debris. NSA also has no objection to the holding back of flood water in upper reaches of catchment areas, if farmers are sufficiently compensated, but argues steps must also be taken to stop the gross misunderstanding that paints sheep and farming practices as a major cause of flooding.

Phil Stocker, NSA Chief Executive, says: “The measures announced are positive steps, and I am pleased the Government has recognised that farmers and landowners have a positive role to play in tackling this issue.

“This recognition must continue, as it is far too often that I hear blame being wrongly placed on there being too many sheep on our hills.”

NSA has outlined the case for the sheep sector to be involved in future approaches to flood prevention in a letter to Liz Truss and looks forward to a partnership approach in the future.