Beware when giving help to reduce flooding

Landowners are morally obliged to co-operate with the Environment Agency (EA) to protect lives and homes from flooding.

Having witnessed the devastation of Uckinghall in 2007 versus the dry village of today there can be no doubt: water should be kept in fields rather than homes.

I make these comments as a cooperative landowner who assisted the Uckinghall scheme, despite having a home, garden and entrance that the Severn never floods.

The experience has shown that landowners also need protection... from the EA, sadly neighbours and possibly even parish and district councils.

The EA first disrupted our home in 2005 and is still doing so today.

The list of issues is long and repetitive. The most concerning relate to the safety of livestock, poor land re-instatement (which the EA has recently acknowledged), and annoyingly as a tax payer the costs incurred by poor management and a refusal to accept information provided by landowners.

It is deeply unfair that individuals are allowed to exploit the building of defences to gain planning permission for extensions, conversions and incinerator flues they would not otherwise have been granted.

It is particularly upsetting when you have assisted the EA, voluntarily deeded land and believed in the integrity of the house sellers form when purchasing your home.

Councils need to carefully apply, and be seen to apply, the codes of conduct and principles of public life. They should consider the integrity of planning applicants, especially when inaccurate information is submitted and freedom of information requests to the EA and sellers forms prove the claims of objectors.

Furthermore, is not acceptable that those who co-operate and substantially benefit from defences (by having land, outbuildings and entrances protected) also receive substantial monetary compensation.

Their compensation is surely the protection they now enjoy.

In today’s economic climate the many communities desperately seeking funding would undoubtedly agree, as would most tax payers.

Despite this experience I still believe landowners are morally obliged to help protect their community. However, I would advise landowners to get a good lawyer to set out terms with the EA and binding covenants on neighbouring properties that benefit from any scheme.

I certainly wouldn’t deed land to help with a neighbour's view and to make maintenance easier for the EA.

Deborah Harknett

Uckinghall

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