Farmers in Banff and Buchan whose floodbanks were damaged in the winter 2015/16 storms are being urged to apply for a grant from the Agricultural Floodbank Repair Scheme before it closes on February 29.
Responding to the unprecedented damage inflicted on floodbanks, the Scottish Government set aside £1million for the scheme. It is available to assist those farmers whose floodbanks were damaged in the storms between December 5, 2015 and January 9, 2016.
Working with the Union, Scottish Government rolled out a simple application process, involving just a short application form and accompanying photos of the damaged floodbanks.
Once the scheme has closed, all applications will be quickly assessed and the Union has received assurances from Scottish Government that successful applicants will rapidly receive their grant authorisation letter and therefore be in a position to commence repair work.
The level of individual awards – up to a maximum of £20,000 – may be affected if the scheme is oversubscribed. NFU Scotland understands that this is not yet the case, and encourages any eligible farmer who suffered damage to their floodbanks during this period to apply.
The scheme applies to nine local authorities: Dumfries and Galloway, Scottish Borders, Perth and Kinross, Stirling, South Lanarkshire, Aberdeenshire, City of Aberdeen, Angus and East Ayrshire.
NFU Scotland has met with Scottish Government and Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) on several occasions since the flooding, presenting them with its proposals for changes to regulation and practice that will reduce the future risk of flooding to farmland and downstream settlements.
This week NFU Scotland will meet with COSLA – the local authorities’ representative body – to discuss how farmers and local authorities can work together to reduce flood risk, as well as consultants with technical expertise in this area.
Further meetings with Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) and SEPA are also on the agenda in the coming weeks.
President of NFU Scotland, Allan Bowie commented: “Since the flooding of December and January, NFU Scotland has been working tirelessly to assist individual affected members, as well as pushing government and regulators to make the changes necessary to ensure that we reduce the risk of similar events happening in the future.
“It is heartening that both Cabinet Secretary Richard Lochhead and Terry A’Hearn, Chief Executive of SEPA, have gone on record as saying that the status quo is untenable. NFU Scotland wholeheartedly agrees, and it is essential that Scottish Government and SEPA work with us to find a sustainable way to reduce flood risk to farmland, villages, and our urban areas.”