Dales farmers' plight – Council calls Government to action

England’s largest council has issued a plea to Government to release emergency funds to help North Yorkshire farmers whose businesses have been devastated by the recent flash floods.

: Grace Lawes of the County Council’s resilience and emergencies team sees the impact of flooding at a farm in Arkengarthdale

In a letter to the Secretary of State for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Theresa Villiers MP, North Yorkshire County Council’s Leader and Chief Executive issue an open invitation to the minister to witness the aftermath first-hand.  Outlining the vital importance of the Dales’ farmers to the local economy and environment – the letter calls for emergency funds to help rebuild farming businesses and for urgent changes to the criteria to allow those hit to access the Farming Recovery Fund.

Issuing the letter, Council Leader Cllr Carl Les said: “July’s flash floods have had a severe impact on parts of the Yorkshire Dales and in particular the areas of Swaledale and Arkengarthdale in Richmondshire. There has been significant damage to road infrastructure, which we are working to resolve and liaising with Department of Transport. However, this letter is focused on the critical role played by the area’s farming community, many of whom have suffered significantly.

“Farming is a crucial business for us here in North Yorkshire and is one of the mainstays of our local economy. It’s a tough business in these upland areas and many farms are barely viable, yet at the same time they are absolutely vital to the communities, the landscape and the tourism industry that the whole of the Dales relies upon. We appeal to Government to release funds urgently to help them recover.”

Following another tour of some of the worst-impacted communities again yesterday, North Yorkshire County Council’s Chief Executive, Richard Flinton, said: “These truly devastating floods may be a very rare weather event, but where they have hit they have destroyed everything in their path.

“There has been significant damage to the infrastructure of farms, including outbuildings and particularly the loss of dry stone walls. Crucial silage and fodder for animals over the winter months has been ruined and livestock has been killed by the torrent of flood water. 

“We have emphasised that the restoration and reinstatement of this farming infrastructure is a critical feature of the wider local economy, as well as the farms themselves. This part of the world is about to be showcased by the UCI World Cycling Championships in September and it is important that the world sees the outstanding beauty of the Dales and that it is a resilient and recovering area that tourists can come to visit and enjoy.”

Cllr Carl Les again: “We believe that it is important for Government to help farms in these areas by ensuring the Farming Recovery Fund is open to them. This issue has already been supported by our local MP and the NFU. This fund has supported important work in other areas affected by flooding and we believe it should be immediately applied to the areas affected by these most recent events. We have also asked for the conditions within the fund to be amended to ensure that they can be used to pay for works such as historic small farm buildings and dry stone walls. I am extremely pleased that Rishi Sunak MP has been raising this issue and I hope our support gives this cause extra voice.”

This story was published 9 August 2019