THE National Farmers Union is urging for the re-introduction of “significant and consistent” river maintenance work – specifically dredging across Somerset.

In a letter to floods minister Dan Rogerson, the NFU South West says the action is the only way trust and confidence amongst the farming and wider community can be restored.

Regional director Melanie Squires said: “Without this we will not be able to bring the key partners together to address the wider and longer-term issues of how to manage the situation.

“We must see urgent action by the Environment Agency, backed by Defra ministers, to allocate sufficient resources or the situation, not simply in terms of the damage done to land and property, but also to trust in central government and its agencies, will be irreversible.”

Ms Squires has also condemned the position of conservation bodies such as the RSPB, which have questioned the value of dredging.

She claimed that it was “eroding good faith amongst the farming community” and failed to recognise the work farmers had done to encourage and sustain wildlife, which was also being imperilled by the frequent and enduring inundations of flood water.