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Support for flood-hit farms

Published: 13 Jan 2016 13:27

Support for flood-hit farms.

Practical measures to help farmers affected by recent flooding have been announced by Rural Affairs Secretary Richard Lochhead.

Speaking during a visit to a flood-hit farm, Mr Lochhead confirmed measures which complement the floodbank restoration scheme announced by the First Minister on Saturday. These include:

  • flexibility on greening and cross compliance rules;
  • SEPA taking a pragmatic approach to getting things back to normal;
  • the publication of flooding restoration 'top tips'.

The Cabinet Secretary was joined by NFU Scotland President Allan Bowie and Scottish Environment Protection Agency chief executive Terry A'Hearn today at Lochlands Farm in Perthshire to see the impact of recent floods on the farm and discuss resilience measures for the future.

Mr Lochhead said:

"It is jaw dropping to see the scale and impact of flooding which has affected a number of farmers across Scotland. Today's announcement sets out the steps we plan to take to help them get back on their feet, building on the funding already announced by the First Minister.

"Where individual farmers are affected by flooding and feel that this will impact on their ability to meet greening requirements for the 2016 basic payment scheme year, they can seek relief from the rules if they write to their local area office within 15 days and provide details of the flooding and damage caused, and the measures they are unable to meet.

"To provide practical help and guidance, we will publish top tips for farmers on restoring their land after flooding and SEPA will take a pragmatic approach while farmers turn their efforts to recover from the recent devastation.

"This comes on top of our flood bank restoration scheme, which is made up of £1 million funding, will cover standard costs up to a cap of £20,000 per business, and cover farmers affected in nine local authorities where we have allocated additional funding to support those areas most affected by recent flooding."

SEPA Chief Executive Terry A'Hearn said:

"The recent severe floods have been devastating for many communities, businesses, householders and farmers. We appreciate that there is a lot of work that needs to be carried out to help get things working again, and in some cases significant repair work will be necessary. We want to be as supportive and helpful as possible to people undertaking repair and recovery work, much of which can be done without authorisation from, or even contacting, SEPA. I am also keen for SEPA to discuss the role rural land management can play in resilience to flooding and the ongoing management of flood risk in Scotland."

Full details of the Cabinet Secretary's five point plan are listed below:

1: Flood bank restoration scheme:

  • £1 million funding
  • Cover standard costs up to a cap of £20,000 per business
  • Cover farmers affected in nine local authorities areas most affected by recent flooding
  • Details on how scheme will be administered to be announced in due course

2: RPID's pragmatic and flexible approach to farmers affected by flooding:

  • On cross compliance – no new land-based cross compliance inspections will be started for farmers currently dealing with flooding issues
  • On greening – where individuals farmers are affected by flooding and consider their ability to meet cross compliance and/or greening requirements for the 2016 Basic Payment Scheme year to be impacted they should contact their local area office in writing within 15 days to seek relief from the rules on the grounds of force majeure/exceptional circumstances. In each case the farmer should provide detail of the flooding/damage caused and the measures they are unable to meet.

3: SEPA will take a pragmatic approach towards helping to get thing back to normal, for example:

  • Works to repair or replace man-made structures, like-for-like, can be carried out without authorisation
  • Removing fallen trees or debris can be carried out without authorisation
  • Dredging small straightened watercourse can be carried out without prior authorisation
  • Larger scale emergency works which may need authorisation can be fast tracked – where urgent, a 'verbal' authorisation can be given
  • SEPA officers are standing by to help – farmers should contact their local SEPA office
  • Specific and concise guidance has been produced – available at the SEPA website

4: Expert advice on flood bank restoration:

  • Give the river as much room as possible to flood, particularly where the river has historically been actively shifting from side-to-side
  • Most embankment failures are caused by 'overtopping' – lessening the slope of the embankment on the floodplain side lessen the risk of scour and failure
  • Avoid fence lines and tracks on or close to embankments

5: Longer-term flooding resilience work following Scottish Government meeting with industry and SEPA:

  • Includes strong support for taking forward work on longer-term resilience
  • Build on the Flood Strategy work announced on Monday and look at issues of implementation.