Roll-out of plan agreed with SEPA means more options to protect farmland from erosion and flooding

NFU Scotland’s officeholder team will shortly be meeting again with farmers affected by flooding on several of Scotland’s major rivers to identify areas where the risk of flooding to farmland, homes and businesses is highest.

Working with local farmers, the Union will visit very large gravel bars that are viewed as being responsible for some of the devastating floods last winter that seriously damaged land and property.

NFUS will then pass its findings to the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) to carry out an assessment, using their new criteria, to establish the role played by these gravel deposits in flooding.

If SEPA identifies gravel deposits in rivers that have been responsible for serious damage to land and property, NFU Scotland will immediately enter discussions with all relevant parties about how to reduce the flood risk in advance of winter.

Last week saw the launch of a free permit from SEPA for land managers to reduce erosion of river banks using a mix of trees, stone, and willow planting to protect and stabilise the banks.  SEPA and NFU Scotland will be working together to promote the use of these bank protection techniques and supporting a number of demonstration sites around the country.  Events at these sites will not only provide farmers with practical advice on the new options, but also help them understand what they can do to manage watercourses and reducing erosion to farmland.

Speaking at the Royal Highland Show, taking place near Edinburgh, NFUS President, Allan Bowie, said: “The extent and gravity of the flooding damage last winter was shocking and the impact and damage on land managed by some of our members was extensive.

“We must use these drier summer months to take action now that will reduce the risk of erosion and serious flooding in the likelihood of further heavy rainfall this winter.

“Gravel bars in some of our major rivers will have played a part in causing serious flood damage to land and property and they remain a concern.

“In the next few weeks, myself and other officeholders will be getting round the country to look again at some of these gravel bars. We will take our findings to SEPA and, if it agrees with our findings, will then be calling for the responsible authorities to take urgent remedial action to avoid a repeat of the shocking and damaging flooding witnessed last winter.

“There is also a major task for NFU Scotland and SEPA to ensure that farmers and crofters are helped to understand all the options available to protect their land from floods including the new options announced by SEPA last week. The regulations can appear daunting, so the Union and SEPA will be working together to help farmers and crofters assess all their options and see for themselves the effectiveness of the new bank protection techniques.”

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