SEPA and NFU Scotland Agree on Measures to Protect Farmland

The severe flooding experienced in many parts of Scotland including Dumfries and Galloway, last winter caused damage to homes, businesses and farmland throughout the country. Immediately after the floods, the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) worked closely with the farming community to help them undertake repair works as quickly and easily as possible. 

Since then, SEPA has continued to work with NFU Scotland to agree on ways to help land managers protect their land from erosion while minimising impacts on Scotland’s water environment, and on how to assess the flood risk posed by very large gravel deposits.

The result of this partnership working has been agreement on a technique to reduce erosion of land on river banks using a mix of trees, stone, and willow planting to protect and stabilise the banks. Not only is this approach proven to protect land from river erosion in a cost effective manner, it also provides environmental benefits by reducing the amount of sediment entering rivers as a result of that erosion.

SEPA and NFU Scotland will now be working together to promote the use of these bank protection techniques to land managers by providing guidance and expertise, and supporting a number of demonstration sites around the country to demonstrate the effectiveness of the technique. Demonstration sites are expected to be showcased in autumn this year.

Discussions are ongoing with the Scottish Government to ensure that the regulations for this bank protection work are as simple and inexpensive as possible. Until then, SEPA will authorise this type of bank protection work through the registration process, but at no cost to the applicant.

Terry A’Hearn, SEPA’s Chief Executive, said:

“This is a great example of SEPA working in partnership with the farming and crofting sector to deliver economic and environmental benefits in the simplest and most cost-effective way possible. It will help protect farmland from erosion, and help Scotland become more resilient to our changing climate.”

SEPA will also be working together with NFU Scotland to identify very large gravel deposits and assess whether these have significantly contributed to flooding of agricultural and non-agricultural land and property.

NFUS President, Allan Bowie, said:

“I was shocked to see the extent and gravity of the flooding damage last winter – it was heart breaking to see the pain it caused so many people. It was essential that SEPA acted on its commitment to help farmers and crofters reduce the risk of future damage, and I believe what is being announced today is a step in the right direction.

“There is now 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, and for SEPA to ensure that the process is as straightforward as possible.

“Gravel bars, particularly where they appear to have played a part in causing serious damage to land and property, remain a concern. I am therefore pleased that SEPA has agreed to urgently carry out a detailed scientific assessment of those of greatest concern. If any are found to have played a part in causing serious flooding, NFU Scotland will immediately be calling for action by those whose job it is to prevent this happening.”

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