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Environment correspondent Louise Batchelor
"In 1994 the River Kelvin flooded dozens of homes in Kirkintilloch"
 real 56k

Friday, 10 November, 2000, 14:40 GMT
Call for 'natural' flood defence
Riverside greenery can provide a natural defence
Scotland's rivers could be better managed using natural solutions than man-made defences, according to a report.

The study by the World Wildlife Fund in Scotland claims a more eco-friendly approach to river management can bring lasting economic and environmental benefits.

The report is the culmination of the WWF's rivers project which showed how the management of land affects the health of rivers and can cause flooding.

The study says that the destruction of riverside vegetation caused by farm chemicals has led to the decline of natural flood control.

Water of Leith, Edinburgh
The Water of Leith was on alert on Tuesday
According to the organisation, man-made flood prevention measures simply move the problem elsewhere on a river and can totally change its character.

Simon Pepper, director of the WWF in Scotland, said: "Flooding is a crucial issue for Scotland with multi-million pound costs expected from the effects of climate change.

"Our work on flooding shows that if Scotland continues to treat rivers as high speed drainage and waste ditches we will always be fighting a losing battle.

"Short term solutions all too often mean long term financial and environmental costs.

Farm projects

"The human cost of flooding and climate change demand that we begin to put in place long term solutions.

"And that means re-thinking the whole approach to living with rivers."

Sam Galbraith
Sam Galbraith: "Money available"
The report is based on projects carried out on farms at West Water in Angus and Inverlochlarig in the Trossachs.

These were set up to show how farmers can regenerate bankside trees and vegetation as well as shifting crops and grazing away from river margins to save money, reduce flooding and improve water quality.

Craig Campbell, from the National Farmers Union Scotland, acknowledged farmers had a role to play in protecting the environment.

He said: "We know that farmers can hurt as well as improve the environment and we know that farmers have a reputation as complainers.

"But there is a job to be done as custodians of the countryside and we know that we can do better."

But said Mr Campbell there needed to be support for cash-strapped farmers who have endured a crisis in their industry for the last three years.

"We look to the Scottish Executive or the parliament to act on this report."

Planning difficulties

Parts of eastern Scotland were put on flood alert on Tuesday after heavy rain caused rivers to swell.

Thousands of sandbags were issued to residents near the Water of Leith in Edinburgh, and there were flood warnings on the Esk, the Almond and the Tyne,

Environment Minister Sam Galbraith said on Wednesday that extra money was being made available by the Scottish Executive for flood defences.

He also acknowledged that getting planning approval for defences was often a slow process.

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07 Nov 00 | Scotland
Scotland waits as rivers rise
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