Scottish Labour called for the Scottish Government to make a statement on flooding and finally they came to the chamber last week (13 January) to answer questions.
The Scottish Government announced that new funding would be available to help those affected in terms of support for households and business recovery and they followed this with some practical measures to assist farmers. They confirmed that flexibility will be given on the requirements necessary to meet the 2016 basic payment to ensure farmers don’t miss out. Top tips will also be published with guidance on how to restore land.
In response to these announcements Claudia Beamish MSP said that although she welcomed these measures she was disappointed it has taken so long to get a declaration.
“I’ve been calling for this money to be released to Local Authorities so they can take quick action to restore homes and get business back up and running,” she said.
“I am a member of the Rural Affairs Committee and two years ago we focused on the issue of flooding as an area of concern and we highlighted the need for appropriate flood management.”
In questioning the Scottish Government on their flooding statement Claudia Beamish asked John Swinney, Deputy First Minister, what flood management arrangements would be put in place up-stream to help protect the towns and villages in the lower part of the river basins, and what additional funding can be made available for this.
The Minister confirmed that there was some provision for support schemes and that the Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs will be meeting with the National Farmers Union Scotland (NFUS) to discuss this further.
Claudia Beamish commented that
“An integrated flood management system is vital to protect South Scotland from the deluge we face. We are only going to see this happening again and again if more money isn’t put into research and development of robust systems, which take account of climate change challenges.
The Scottish Government must consider more funding to support farmers and land managers with a range of options such as tree planting along river banks which would help combat flooding. Options can be made available through the Scottish Rural Development Programme (SRDP). Further support for the Co-operation fund would enable a range of partners to work together on these issues.
Flooding doesn’t discriminate; it affects businesses, homes and agriculture. It can have dire consequences for livelihoods and I hope that people are recovering as quickly as possible from the recent devastation.”