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Change in Attitude Required to Reduce Future Farmland Flood Risk

NFU Scotland is seeking a change in attitude that will allow farmers to do the necessary required activities on watercourses to reduce the flood risk to farmland, homes and businesses.  

Recent flooding has highlighted the need for a new approach which will maximise the ability to farm; maximise the protection we can give to homes and businesses; and maximise the environmental benefit.

NFU Scotland hosted a meeting on member Bob Strachan’s Lochlands Farm in Perthshire with Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs Richard Lochhead MSP and Terry A’Hearn, Chief Executive of Scottish Environment Protection Agency, today (Wednesday 13 January).

Lochlands Farm, along with many others, suffered severe flooding following Storm Frank. But this was only one of many farms across Scotland hit in recent weeks by flooding which has seen thousands of acres submerged under water and those fields that have escaped the flooding sodden. Valuable topsoil has been stripped from fields; debris dumped on land; fences, buildings and farm houses damaged and livestock lost.

NFU Scotland has been collating information to gain a wider picture of the damage caused by flooding in recent weeks to agricultural land across the country, including Perthshire, Dumfries, the Borders and the North East.

At today’s meeting the organisations discussed the immediate issues of concern regarding flood bank re-instatement, the works that are necessary on farm to get land back into production and the impact on production that the flooding will have.

However, key is a political commitment of finding the solutions needed to build resilience into our farming systems to mitigate against abnormal weather events.   This will require a change in attitudes that will allow farmers to do the necessary required activities on watercourses to reduce the flood risk to farmland, homes and businesses.

NFU Scotland’s President Allan Bowie commented: “The damage seen on Scottish farms across the country has been extensive and a great deal of work will be required in the weeks and months ahead to put right the damage that has been done.   It is important that farmers know that SEPA and the Scottish Government now allow the re-instatement of flood banks without the requirement for any permissions.   Too often farmers fear doing the necessary repair work but they need not.   Repairing with like for like material does not require approval and farmers can crack on when the weather permits.

“Prevention is better than cure and measures that allow farmers to better manage watercourses is critical if we are to reduce the flood risk to farmland, homes and businesses.   SEPA and Scottish Government understand that a change in attitudes is now required if we are to find a way that maximises our ability to farm; maximises the protection we can give to homes and businesses; and maximises the environment.   Doing more of the same is no longer an option.   A new approach to water course management is what is required.

Farmer, Bob Strachan, of Lochlands Farm commented: “We appreciated all the organisations involved coming out to the farm to see the damage on our land.

“We are but a small example of the wider spread damage caused by the flooding to agricultural land in Scotland.

“We are happy with the approach SEPA is taking to the problem, and contrary to what we have thought in the past, we shouldn’t face a stumbling block to carry out initial repairs or on going reasonable works.

“We do need a longer-term plan to slow down the river and to mitigate against these once in 200 years events that are happening more and more frequently.”

Notes to editors

  • Photographs from the visit to Lochlands Farm or the full briefing paper can be obtained by emailing media@nfus.org.uk.

Ends

Contact Ruth McClean on 0131 472 4108
 

Date Published:

News Article No.: 10/16


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