Representatives from NFU Scotland joined with local MSPs and councillors in East Ayrshire to examine the damage caused by recent flooding to farmland in the area.
Walter Young of Castle Mains Farm, New Cumnock has been seriously affected by recent flooding which has caused a significant amount of river banking to be breached on his land.
Reports of serious flooding and damage caused to farmland in other parts of the country are also being received, including in Dumfries and Galloway and Perthshire.
Adam Ingram MSP, Graeme Pearson MSP and local councillor Bill Crawford met with Union Vice President Rob Livesey, Ayrshire Regional Chairman John Wildman and Regional Manager Christine Cuthbertson on Thursday (February 13) to visit Walter’s livestock farm to inspect the damage and discuss solutions.
The Union is in discussions with Scottish Government and Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) about reviewing existing procedures after the recent heavy.
Walter used to be allowed to dredge sections of the River Afton, which also passes through his land, to remove excess sediment and gravel which burdensome regulations now restrict. He had wanted to dredge some of the most badly affected areas including the now destroyed flood bank at the River Nith, but as he had carried out a small amount of work earlier in the year he was advised by SEPA he could not dredge again for three years.
The management required on the area flooded by the River Nith and a further stretch downstream is a primary concern of Walter’s in order to allow the water
to flow more freely to alleviate pressure.
Speaking after the recent visit from politicians, Walter said: “Over 70 metres of the flood bank along the Nith has been breached on my farm, and I am very worried about the cost of the repair. Because of the complexity of regulations, farmers, not only in Ayrshire, but across Scotland, remain uncertain as to what can or can’t be done in relation to river maintenance, and it can be a very costly process.”
John Wildman, Regional Board Chairman for Ayrshire said: “We have again experienced a long period of above average rainfall over the winter months, leading to severe flooding of both people’s houses and farmland.
“Management of waterways was historically done by farmers, often at their own cost. This has been greatly restricted over recent years due to change in legislation and it is time we re-visited this area and the rules governing the management of waterways.
“We desperately require a more sensible approach to this issue and less red tape in order to reduce the risks of flooding to property and allow our rivers to flow effectively.”
NFU Scotland’s Vice President Rob Livesey commented: “Following the effects of flooding in recent months, there are certain areas of Scotland which have suffered worse than others.
“For Walter Young, in particular, a substantial length of bank has been lost and does need to be reinstated. It is completely unjust for farmers to be expected to maintain defences now when for the past number of years, they have been restricted from taking action to reduce the risk to these defences.
“To now have to spend the equivalent of many years of maintenance and repairs all at once with the cash flow issues that arise from that is unacceptable.
“Possible courses of action were discussed during the site visit including creating a group of land owners and farmers to work collaboratively to maintain the river and look at dredging and relevant licenses.
“We need to liaise with the local community to prevent future flooding of New Cumnock and surrounding areas and continue to work with SEPA, local councillors, MSPs and MPs to get a plan in place for farmland affected by flooding.”