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Out of touch with all things rural

I was encouraged by Ian Johnson's letter (NCE 1 November) noticing the large amount of water flowing from agricultural fields in the recent floods.
I was even more encouraged when he sensibly suggested digging out the ditches as a step to reducing this flow.

However, I fear he may not be as in touch with matters rural as he would like to think.

I was talking to an ecological advisor this week who tries to farm sustainably and receives his Stewardship grants. I had heard there was a problem with ditchwork. Oh no problem, he said – you can't dig them out!

As part of the Stewardship grant regime farmers must not dig ditches out to relieve field flooding, as the government wants to increase boggy area. There are extremely limited exceptions to this edict, none of which are related to sensible food production or sensible
flood prevention.

PHIL SIMPSON (M), 55 Wentworth Road, Harborne, Birmingham B17 9SS

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