The NFU has used a visit to a flood-hit farmer in Perthshire to renew its call for key stakeholders to get round the table and start planning to minimise the impact that flooding is having on farmland around Scotland.
At Easter Rhynd farm, near Bridge of Earn, farmer David Hay has seen centuries-old flood defences on the River Tay breached by strong winds, heavy rain and the highest tidal surges in living memory. At the farm today (Monday, 3 March), flooding from the peak spring tide saw more than 50 hectares of prime agricultural land disappear under sea water
– an event that is repeated with each new tide. Most of that land has already been planted with wheat and the rest has been ploughed in preparation for planting potatoes later this spring.
The Union now has a number of case studies from around Scotland – Dumfries and Galloway, Ayrshire, the Borders, Perthshire and the North East – where flooding levels on farmland is undermining production and it is keen to meet again with Scottish Government and SEPA to discuss more robust resilience measures.
Speaking from Easter Rhynd, NFU Scotland President Nigel Miller said: “Farmland sits low down on the list of priorities when it comes to discussing flood defences but given the risk that flooding now poses for some of our prime agricultural land, its importance must increase if we are to be serious about production and natural resources.
“Investment in rural flood management has been insufficient and farmers need to have the ability to use the complete flood management toolkit, including the removal of silt. On the Tay and in Dumfries and Galloway, it is clear that engineering flood prevention measures that cater for extreme events is crucial. We must work to ensure that properties, their land and their ability to produce food are not placed at risk.
“We are hopeful of meeting in the near future with Environment Minister Paul Wheelhouse. We recently facilitated a visit to Dumfries and Galloway where SEPA and Scottish Government officials were shown the damage that flooding has wreaked on farmland in the past few months.
“By the time our meeting with the Minister takes place, we expect to have case studies from many areas around Scotland where flooding is having an impact on farmland and where resilience measures are needed with urgency. The union is also funding an independent expert in flood prevention to work on case studies to assess what defences and engineering may provide solutions to flooding issues.”