To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what financial assistance is available to farmers to enable them to clear ditches and other watercourses for which they are responsible; and if he will make a statement.
The flood risk operating authorities (Environment Agency, local authorities and, in areas of special drainage need, internal drainage boards) undertake prioritised programmes of maintenance work on watercourses, including cleaning and dredging where appropriate. Otherwise responsibility for clearance lies with the land owner.
Total central and local government spend on management of flood and coastal erosion risk will be some £600 million this year, rising incrementally to £800 million in 2010-11. This is invested primarily in works on the ground carried out by the aforementioned operating authorities.