Farmers expect to hear next week if they are to be allowed more flexibility to manage gravel bars in rivers in the wake of January’s flooding across Scotland.
The farmers’ union, NFU Scotland (NFUS), said yesterday they hoped for “meaningful changes” to be agreed after presenting the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) with a list of proposed changes to the rules.
The build-up of gravel bars has been identified by many farmers and others in rural Scotland as part of the reason this past winter’s flooding caused so much damage in some areas. NFUS believes the gravel bars not only restricted flows in some parts of some rivers, causing them to burst their banks, but they also directed flood waters towards river banks, causing irreparable damage to the banks and often the land beyond.
Whilst there are currently some permits for management of such gravel bars, the union argues that they are expensive and time consuming to apply for, and often unduly restrictive in what activity they permit.
A union spokesman said they were looking for permission to “manage” the gravel banks in order to return the river to its original course.
The chairman of the union’s environment and land-use committee, Angus MacFadyen said that without greater flexibility to manage the bars, flooding would become an ever greater problem
He added: “Fully accepting that we need to use such flexibility responsibly, we need some fresh thinking here from SEPA, Scottish Government and others as the status quo is unsustainable and unacceptable.”