1. ITV Report

To dredge or not to dredge?

Stephen Watkins' farmland is covered in water Photo: ITV News Central

The floods across the country have been marked by calls from those affected for authorities to dredge rivers.

One of those is Stephen Watkins, a horticultural farmer in Severn Stoke, Worcestershire.

Some of his land is on a floodplain and he normally plans his crops carefully around the possibility of flooding - but this year has been unprecedented.

He says there are whole trees floating in nearby rivers which stops excess water flowing out when levels do drop so the river backs up.

He says better waterway maintenance would have made recent flooding far less severe.

Worcestershire Wildlife Trust admit that clearing blockages around manmade structures like bridges can be effective but say full scale dredging is pointless.

No matter how deep you dig a channel you'll still get flooding.....people also say that speeding up water by dredging is the answer, we know this makes water arrive at communities downstream faster

– Peter Case, Worcestershire Wildlife Trust

A growth in agriculture means 90% of wetlands have been drained to use the land.

Along the Bow Brook in Worcestershire the wildlife team are introducing backwaters, marshes, and wetlands to absorb water and release it slowly - compensating for dredging in the 70s and 80s.They've built a drainage system which takes ditch water from fields and filters it, removing pollutants.

And this 100m shallow stream provides a home for fish which would struggle to survive in fast flowing flood water.

Channel for fish Credit: ITV News Central

Both sides of the argument hope the water recedes soon, so both land and wildlife can get back to normal.

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