Measures have been agreed to allow Scottish farmers to protect their land and property from flood damage while minimising the impact on the country’s water courses.
The Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) has been working with the farming community since last winter when severe flooding experienced in many parts of Scotland last winter caused damage to homes, businesses and farmland.
Since then, SEPA has continued to work with NFU Scotland to agree on ways to help land managers protect their land from erosion and on how to assess the flood risk posed by large gravel deposits.
The result is an 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.
This approach is a proven method of protecting land from river erosion in a cost effective manner, and 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 work together to promote the use of these 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.
Discussions are also continuing with the Scottish Government to ensure that regulations relating to the work are as straightforward as possible.
Terry A’Hearn, SEPA 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.”
Allan Bowie, NFUS president, also said that it was essential that SEPA acted on its commitment to help reduce the risk of future damage.
He continued: “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.
“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.”