Neil Parish, MP for Tiverton and Honiton and member of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Select Committee, called the Secretary of State to allow dredging waterway to tackle flooding in the Somerset Levels.
Neil Parish (Tiverton and Honiton) (Con): The Secretary of State was right to mention the Dutch engineers who drained the levels, because they dug out the ditches and rivers and kept them clean, which was absolutely key. We have now had six weeks of flooding. I welcome what the Secretary of State has done, but we need to change the rules to ensure that farmland and environmental land is protected, because six weeks of flooding destroys not only farmland, but nature conservation and people’s lives.
The Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Mr Owen Paterson): I am grateful to my hon. Friend for his question. I remind him that we are protecting significant areas of agricultural land as we speak, but my view of the future, as he has probably picked up, is that many of the low-risk waterways are much better cleaned out and maintained by local landowners, in co-operation with the Environment Agency. That is probably the best way to go.
Hansard source (Citation: HC Deb, 3 February 2014, c31)