CUMBRIAN farmers have urged the Environment Agency to help protect farmland against flooding.

The farmers, along with farm leaders, met Environment Agency Chief Executive, Philip Duffy in Cumbria to discuss potential solutions to flooding of agricultural land around the river Winster.

The meeting, which was hosted by dairy farmer David Lawrence at Holme Farm, Grange over Sands, gave Mr Duffy the opportunity to see the impact flooding has on local people and businesses first-hand.

Flooding has been an issue in the Lyth and Winster catchments for over ten years. The movement of the sands in Morecambe Bay means River Winster is not discharging water into the bay effectively. This is causing outfalls in the area to silt up and become blocked, resulting in flooding on farmland and roads.

Various meetings have been held to try and find a solution. As the outfalls discharge into a SSSI, Natural England and the MMO (Marine Management Organisation) are also involved, and farmers are concerned about the length of time it takes for permit applications to be decided.

Local landowners have set up the Lynster Farmers Group to bring local people together to find a long-term solution to the issues and has created a plan to allow a functioning and sustainable conveyance of water into the Estuary.

Host and dairy farmer David Lawrence said: “The meeting went well. It’s quite difficult to portray the ten years we’ve had. We came over a little bit emotional sometimes because for us we’re no closer to solving this now than we were ten years ago.

“We’ve had a lot of talking going on over the last ten years and we’ve had no action. It’s action we need and sooner rather than later. We’re just hopeful that this is one of the meetings that there is an outcome from because the other meetings there hasn’t been any outcome.

“One of our big asks was for help - we need help from them to get clearance licences so that we can progress with our plan. If we can get everybody talking like Mr Duffy says, then this should be sorted fairly soon.”

NFU Deputy President Tom Bradshaw said: “For more than 10 years farmland has been flooded by the river Winster causing huge financial stress and significant challenges for the personal wellbeing of individuals involved. This stems from a failure to get to grips with the challenges of managing watercourses and improving and maintaining our flood defences. We’re asking the EA and other stakeholders to deliver a proactive plan.”