25 February 2014 Last updated at 08:23 ET
The Environment Agency says it cannot protect all people and all properties from flooding
The National Farmers’ Union (NFU) has condemned “ludicrous” plans to flood farms on high ground to prevent homes and businesses in towns from being hit.
Engineers have proposed creating ponds and bogs on high ground to prevent rainfall rushing down hills and causing flooding.
However, NFU president Peter Kendall said farmland was “far too valuable”.
He said: “We have to put lives and human safety first but we have to put a higher priority on agricultural land.”
A £10m farming recovery fund, announced earlier this month by the prime minister, will open on Friday.
Farming Minister George Eustice told the NFU Conference in Birmingham the money would help flood-hit farmers in key areas, such as restoring grassland, restoring access to fields and improving field drainage.
All farmers affected by the floods would be able to apply for emergency funding of up to £5,000 under the scheme, covering up to 100% of their business costs, he said.
Experts say farmers in higher areas have contributed to recent flooding by straightening streams and draining bogs that used to capture rainfall.
The Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management (CIWEM) says rainfall should in future be captured in upland areas by felling trees into streams to make them overflow.
Global Climate Change