AN MP has taken the concerns of the district’s farmers all the way to Parliament.
Priti Patel, Witham MP, has urged action to help Essex Coast Organisation during a Westminster Hall debate on Thursday.
Ms Patel said the organisation, which is led by Andrew St Joseph, of Mill Farm, Tollesbury, and takes half of its membership from around the Maldon district, needs to be included in the Environment Agency’s decision-making process because they contribute hundreds of thousands of pounds to the agency every year.
“Each year, through the general drainage charge, farmers in Essex give the Environment Agency something in the region of £800,000, which is a significant sum that could instead be spent on other investments or by farmers themselves in acting against flood risks,” Ms Patel said.
“The farmers continue to feel that they are being subjected to a regime under the auspices of the Environment Agency that generates taxation almost without effective representation.”
She also said farmers have had to fill out “reams of paperwork” for the agency and been made to wait up to two months for permission to carry out work on the shoreline.
Mr St Joseph documented his organisation’s plight in the Standard last month, when he called for the agency to make a number of concessions before farmers would be willing to carry out future work on the Essex sea wall.
The concessions included being able to sit on the agency’s decision-making committees and a delay in signing off the shoreline management plan.