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The BBC's Yvette Austin in Chichester, West Sussex
"An ingenious scheme involving some 13 miles of pipe"
 real 56k

Sunday, 12 November, 2000, 19:31 GMT
Aid hopes for flooded farmers
Discharge point beside Chichester Cathedral
More than 13 miles of pipes were laid in Chichester to tackle floods
Flood hit farmers may be cheered by news that the government is considering an aid package for their industry.

Flooding across England and Wales has eased slightly, although more rain is forecast for the coming days.

But the misery continues for hundreds of households across the UK with homes and businesses still affected by high water levels.

There are still eight severe flood warnings for rivers in North Yorkshire, parts of the West Midlands and in Sussex and Kent.

We have to be aware that these are unique floods

Chancellor Gordon Brown

Farmers who have lost crops to the flood waters can take some solace that Chancellor Gordon Brown is considering an aid package.

He told BBC 1's Breakfast with Frost programme he would sit down with Agriculture Minister Nick Brown to discuss how they could help under-pressure farmers who have now seen their crops and land devastated.

"I think we will have to look at a situation where many of the fields are flooded," he said.

"We have to be aware that these are unique floods. They are causing a huge amount of damage and the government stands ready to help."

Pipe diversions

Large areas in the south of England remain under threat from floods.

More than 13 miles of pipes have been laid in Chichester, West Sussex to divert floodwaters around the city.

The long-term forecast for the southern part of the country looked bleak, with the Environment Agency warning flooding problems could continue into April.

"Springs which have been dormant for more than 100 years are coming back to life," said Environment Agency spokesman Ray Kemp.

"Unless we have an exceptionally dry winter, every time there is rain of any considerable quantity, people can expect flooding, until growing vegetation in the spring soaks the water up.

"That could mean repeat flooding every time we even get just the average winter rainfall because we now know we cannot get rid of that water from the North and South Downs."

Tony Blair in flooded home
Tony Blair has visited a number of badly affected regions

Particular areas of concern included Chichester and Worthing in West Sussex, and the Denton area of Newhaven, and Brighton, in East Sussex.

In Brighton, the Wellsbourne Stream, which used to run through the centre of Brighton in Victorian times, was resurrected after weeks of heavy rain that has saturated land to the north of the town.

Patcham, in the north of Brighton, has been flooded for a week due to the exceptionally high levels of spring water.

More rain is expected to fall in the north of England overnight on Sunday, which is when any further problems in the region are predicted to occur.

However, despite some parts being among the worst affected by the floods in the country, water levels in the north are falling.

There is still some concern about high seasonal tides in the north - the highest of which will be on Monday night, and the Environment Agency says it will be monitoring the weakened flood defences throughout the region.

Floodline: 0845 988 1188

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