Following their AGM on November 3, members of the South Holland branch of the NFU joined members of the South Holland Growers’ Club at Whaplode Manor for a presentation on the work of internal drainage boards.
Nick Morris, operations engineer for the Welland & Deepings Internal Drainage Board, gave a very informative talk, outlining the events of the winter of 2013/14 including events leading up to the East Coast tidal surge on the December 5, 2013, as well as the disastrous flooding of farmland and communities on the Somerset Levels.
Mr Morris explained how Internal Drainage Boards and the Environment Agency work to manage water levels and the risk of flooding in south Lincolnshire in the face of climate change and rising sea levels.
The audience listened to an explanation of the work carried out throughout the year to maintain the drainage system including a guide to some of the specialist equipment used by the boards and the 24-hour monitoring and remote management of the system by telemetry.
Mr Morris stressed the importance placed by the boards on conservation work, explaining its involvement with projects aimed at protecting the habitats for Sand Martins, Marsh Orchids and the Spined Loach, amongst other schemes.
In addition to its day to day work, the Welland & Deepings IDB also owns and operates the Pinchbeck Engine Museum, which gives a real insight into the history of drainage in the area.
Mr Morris concluded his presentation by outlining the events of December 5, 2013, when the area was subjected to a tidal surge higher than that of the catastrophic 1953 event which caused loss of life and untold economic loss all down the east coast. The high tide reached a level some 1.6 metres higher than anticipated, affecting 569 properties in Boston. It is testament to the ongoing work of the board that events were not considerably worse.
Stafford Proctor, the newly elected chairman of the South Holland branch of the NFU, gave the vote of thanks on behalf of all those present. Stafford replaced Edward Gent. New vice-chairman is Gavin Lane.