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Water pipe burst hits big potato crop near Shrewsbury

By Rob Smith | Shrewsbury | Farming | Published:

Farmers near Shrewsbury fear a big financial hit after a pipe erupted in the middle of a road and stopped their potatoes being watered.

Farmer Tony Smith says his potato crop is in danger of being ruined within 48 hours

The land at Burlton Grange Farm, north of Shrewsbury, covering 43 acres, has been devoid of water since last Sunday morning.

A boundary box burst and created a crater the size of a football in the middle of the B4397.

Farmer Alistair Crow looks at the hole

More than 100 tonnes of potatoes have potentially been affected by the lack of irrigation, with the recent lack of rain in the county meaning the crop has had no water supply at all.

Police closed the roads and Shropshire Council were due on Friday to send a contractor to repair the damage.

Severn Trent Water will install temporary traffic lights while they work to fix the issue.

Tony Smith, who owns the potato fields, said: “We started to pump the water through on Sunday and in a matter of minutes it had caused this problem and stopped. The hole in the road is about 18 inches deep, you could fit a football down it.

“I am getting stick from the workforce because they are sat around twiddling their thumbs as they can’t work, and off the contractor because they’re not getting their potatoes.

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“Shropshire Council said their contractor would be out at 9am on Tuesday morning, and we hadn’t heard from them all day. We’ve got potatoes that badly need watering. It’s very frustrating.”

Farmer Alistair Crow looks at the hole

Alistair Crow, of EH Crow and Son, hires the workers to pick the potatoes.

He said the impact on his business could be anywhere between £25,000 and £50,000 if the potatoes on the 43-acre site were not watered and could not be picked.

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He said: “It has a big impact. There are 43 acres and each acre has about three tonnes of potatoes that could die.

“If they’re not watered in 10 or 12 days they will suffer. Basically, we can’t get any water on our crop and if we can’t get water on them they will not be fit for purpose.

“It is a joint effort from me and Tony and we will both take the hit.

“It is difficult to put a figure on it, and I don’t know what we can do to mitigate the circumstances.

“I normally work out of an office but I got a call out on Sunday morning to come down here. The guys are all frustrated that they can’t work.

“It’s a lot of hassle for a fairly small thing. There are three fields and a lot of potatoes that are having the issue.”

Severn Trent Water said the issue was down to a leak from a boundary box, the small panel that connects a customer’s supply to the mains network.

Peter Edney, on behalf of Severn Trent, said: “We’re aware of a leak. To get it fixed we’ll need to put temporary traffic lights in place to keep our engineers and motorists safe.

“We’re planning the repair at the moment and will get everything back to normal as soon as we can.”

Shropshire Council did not respond to a request for comment.

Rob Smith

By Rob Smith
Reporter

Senior reporter for the Shropshire Star based at Ketley in Telford.

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