The owner of one of the UK's most famous vineyards, Breaky Bottom near Lewes, East Sussex, and NFU Mutual are at loggerheads over the complex problem of soil erosion.

Peter Hall, owner of the vineyard, said he faced a long wait for payment from NFU Mutual after suffering flooding following soil erosion at a neighbouring farm.

A previous flood claim on the farmer's public liability insurance through the insurer took five years, ending in an out of court settlement for an undisclosed sum.

The vineyard has been flooded more than 20 times in the last four months by water and silt descending from the farm.

Hall said the preference for autumn-planted wheat left the farmer's land vulnerable to erosion from heavy winter rains.

Hall, also insured with NFU Mutual, said he doubted the insurer would let the claim for the latest flooding get to court as he believed it would set a precedent that insurers would not be able to afford.

It could be applied to erosion cases anywhere in the chalky-soiled areas in the south of England, he said: “I am amazed that other private citizens do not sue the farmers.”

Hall and his family are currently living in a caravan and he thinks it will be October, a year after the first flood, before his house will be habitable again.

To stop further damage to the house, he recently spent £2,000 on flood defences, which he said were successful in stopping the two most recent floods reaching the house.

A spokesman for the NFU Mutual said: “We've had a small number of cases of this sort.” He said cases like this were complicated and that “it will take some time to settle”.

He declined to comment on the Breaky Bottom claim as it is an ongoing case.