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Professor Alan Jenkins of the Centre for Ecology & Hydrology comments in relation to an announcement by Defra (6 January 2015) that farmers across England will be allowed to maintain their own ditches under government plans to improve flood defences. Listen to what he said with the audio clip below:

The announcement was made by Secretary of State Elizabeth Truss at the Oxford Farming Conference. Watch a video of the speech or read a transcript here.

Read a BBC Online article quoting part of what Alan said.


Alan: Well waterlogged fields are absolutely no use to farmers, they can't maintain their productivity on flooded or waterlogged soils so it makes sense to enable them to manage the field accordingly.

There is a potential downside, however, in that if we increase the drainage in these fields during heavy rainfall events, it's possible that there will be increased and faster transmission of water through the river system with a possible increase in flood risk further downstream  [28s]. This however is likely to vary from one catchment, one scale to another, local scale to big catchment scale and in fact at this moment we have no good evidence whether the flood impact would be increased or decreased [42s].

Related information

Staff page of Professor Alan Jenkins