Page last updated at 10:16 GMT, Thursday, 11 September 2008 11:16 UK

Farm land damage 'catastrophic'

Farm flooding
Mike Dagg surveys his flooded potato fields at Crailing Tofts near Jedburgh along with the NFUS president

A farming leader has described the impact of weekend floods on some Borders farms as "catastrophic".

National Farmers Union Scotland's President, Jim McLaren, visited sites affected near Jedburgh and Kelso.

He said that an already "dreadful summer" had been made even worse as crops, roads, bridges and fences were left under water or washed away.

Mr McLaren said the floods had come at a critical time during which farmers should be harvesting and sowing.

On one of the farms I visited, there were acres of potatoes under water, with a consequential loss of around 5,500 per acre
Jim McLaren
NFUS president

Large parts of north east England and south east Scotland were badly affected by heavy rains at the weekend.

A number of homes in the Borders were left cut off as floodwaters poured through the Bowmont and Kale valleys.

Mr McLaren said farmers in the region had been left counting the cost.

"The effect of this summer's heavy rains on the farms I visited has been absolutely catastrophic," he said.

He said most Scottish farmers had only brought in half of their harvest and in many cases it had been of a much poorer quality.

Jim McLaren attempted to cross the bridge at Clifton Farm near Yetholm

He added that some farms had received up to half of their annual rainfall in the last 40 days and, in some cases, five inches in 48 hours.

"On one of the farms I visited, there were acres of potatoes under water, with a consequential loss of around 5,500 per acre," he said.

"There are fields of cereals and other vegetables which have been destroyed as well."

He added that the problem extended beyond crops.

"There are infrastructure problems too, with entire bridges and farm roads being washed away," he said.

"This means that even where crops can be salvaged, there may be no access to the fields, as is the case at Morebattle where the combine cannot reach the fields because the bridge has been destroyed."

'Simply incredible'

Environment Minister Mike Russell has also been to the scene to inspect the problems.

"The scale of the damage to a bridge that has stood for more than 150 years was simply incredible," he said.

"Such heavy rainfall in such a short space of time is always going to cause problems but I have been impressed by the response from Scottish Borders Council.

"I have also asked Sepa to develop a more proactive response to help the community, particularly with stabilising the river and supporting embankment repairs."

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