The partnership has also seen agreement reached on ways to help land managers protect their land from erosion while minimising impacts on Scotland’s water environment, and on how to assess the flood risk posed by very large gravel deposits.
Techniques to reduce erosion of land on river banks include using a mix of trees, stone, and willow planting to protect and stabilise the banks.
They also provide environmental benefits by reducing the amount of sediment entering rivers as a result of that erosion.
NFUS president, Allan Bowie, said: “I was shocked to see the extent and gravity of the flooding damage last winter – it was heart breaking to see the pain it caused so many people. It was essential that SEPA acted on its commitment to help farmers and crofters reduce the risk of future damage.
“There is now a major task for NFU Scotland and SEPA to ensure that farmers and crofters are helped to understand all the options available to protect their land, and for SEPA to ensure that the process is as straightforward as possible.
“Gravel bars, particularly where they appear to have played a part in causing serious damage to land and property, remain a concern. I am therefore pleased that SEPA has agreed to urgently carry out a detailed scientific assessment of those of greatest concern. If any are found to have played a part in causing serious flooding, NFU Scotland will immediately be calling for action by those whose job it is to prevent this happening.”
SEPA and NFU Scotland will now be working together to promote the use of the bank protection techniques to land managers by providing guidance and expertise, and supporting a number of demonstration sites around the country to demonstrate the effectiveness of the technique.
Demonstration sites are expected to be showcased in autumn this year.
Discussions are ongoing with the Scottish Government to ensure the regulations for this bank protection work are as simple and inexpensive as possible.
Until then, SEPA will authorise this type of bank protection work through the registration process, but at no cost to the applicant.