Farmland swamped in latest bank burst

A stunning overhead view of the breach and flooded farmland at Martin Fen taken by staff at Beeswax Dyson Farming. EMN-190312-133703001
A stunning overhead view of the breach and flooded farmland at Martin Fen taken by staff at Beeswax Dyson Farming. EMN-190312-133703001

Up to 300 acres of farmland has been swamped as rising water levels forced another waterway to burst its banks.

Staff at Beeswax Dyson Farming arrived at work early on Friday to discover swathes of Martin Fen rapidly submerging under water pouring through a 30-foot breach in the bank of the Timberland Delph drainage channel.

Residents were put on standby to evacuate after the breach in the Timberland Delph was discovered. Photo: Beeswax Dyson. EMN-190312-133652001

Residents were put on standby to evacuate after the breach in the Timberland Delph was discovered. Photo: Beeswax Dyson. EMN-190312-133652001

The gap quickly widened under the force of thousands of gallons of water which should have been flowing into the River Witham near Woodhall Spa.

Flood warnings had been issued for the River Witham area from Woodhall Spa to Chapel Hill overnight.

Environment Agency and Internal Drainage Board engineers were alerted and 100 one ton sand bags have already been delivered to the site with a view to starting emergency repair work this week.

An Environment Agency spokesman said: “They have already placed some of the bags in the breach to prevent further damage and the rest of the equipment is now on site.”

The farmland affected belongs to millionaire inventor James Dyson’s farming company and managing director Richard Williamson said residents at a nearby farmhouse and yard were put on standby, but did not need to be evacuated.

He said: “When the guys came to work they realised the bank had breached and water was heading quickly towards the houses. As it turned out, the water direction changed and headed down two ditches, flooding a big area of land towards Martin.”

He said some of the water has already been pumped off and the level is dropping.

Mr Williamson said: “Some oilseed rape crops have been lost entirely, we are just focussing on getting rid of the water.”

He said his staff have been offering their local knowledge and machinery to assist in the operation to carry out a temporary and then more permanent repair.

He said soil structure will have been lost on the farmland affected which could take two to three years to recover and crop planting had already been delayed having had 1,000mm of rainfall already this year compared to an average figure of 600mm.

Mr Williamson believed farmers, local authorities, the Environment Agency and drainage boards should communicate closely in future to re-evaluate acceptable levels of maintenance of water courses.