I read the article about flooding at Easter Rhynd Farm (“NFUS renews call for action from Holyrood on flood prevention”, 4 March) with interest and some disappointment. The farmer, Mr Hay, refers to issues with the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (Sepa) in the 1980s regarding the maintenance of flood banks.
This was prior to the establishment of Sepa, in 1996, although we do have historical records from a predecessor body regarding concerns over the use of unsuitable materials for bank maintenance at Easter Rhynd.
There is, however, no reference to our predecessor preventing the works; in fact, quite the opposite. We are very aware of the challenges facing farmers and land managers during this prolonged spell of wet weather, and our staff are always happy to discuss drainage and river work issues.
At a corporate level, we continue to liaise closely with The National Farmers Union of Scotland on this important issue.
In fact, staff from our Perth team had a site meeting with Mr Hay and his son last Friday (28 February) to discuss repair of a flood bank which had started to erode in December 2013, and was breached in January 2014.
Our officer confirmed that no authorisation was required from Sepa for the repair, as long as similar materials were used and the bank was rebuilt to the same height. Having seen this coverage, we have been in touch with Mr Hay again to pass on further information and offer advice.
Extensive river works carried out in the wrong place, and in the wrong way, can result in serious environmental damage and a risk of increased erosion and flooding elsewhere, but we often find that farmers and land managers are surprised to learn that they can carry out certain dredging and clearance activities, and some flood bank repairs, without contacting Sepa.
For more significant engineering works permission may be required, and our staff are always available to discuss such works.
Water & land manager
Scottish Environment Protection Agency
Castle Business Park