IT would be churlish to bemoan the £2m fund that has been set up to support farmers in South Yorkshire – and also the Midlands and Gloucestershire – who suffered uninsurable damage to their property and land in November’s floods.
However the Farming Recovery Fund is limited – it has the hallmarks of another token gesture after this Government was finally convinced, after much persuasion by this newspaper and others, to match, up to £1m, the money raised by South Yorkshire’s Community Foundation to support victims.
And it also highlights the need for more co-ordinated action, when floods do occur, to help families, businesses and farmers – politicians in the Yorkshire Dales claim that the area has now been forgotten by Ministers, and Defra, since last summer’s devastating floods.
Given the increased frequency of flooding, and the heartbreak suffered by victims as they watch rising waters devastate their homes and ruin their life’s work, as much attention needs to be given to the aftermath of floods as the need to look again at how to protect areas that are at risk.
This will only happen when the Environment Agency, as well as local authorities and others, look at river catchment areas in their entirety rather than on a piecemeal basis. For, while the flood defences installed in Sheffield after the 2007 floods appeared to spare the city two months ago, there is a view that they could have exacerbated problems further down the Don Valley. That is why a joined-up approach to flood management is now critical.