Flood advice experts for Cheviots group

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FARMERS in the Cheviots are to get advice on flooding from specialised environmentalists.

Co-operative Cheviot Futures has appointed two officers, Tracy Hall and Jen Hewitson, in a £200,000 bid to increase flood resilience.

Cheviot Futures member, Tweed Forum director Luke Comins, said: “The officers will assist farmers and land managers to integrate resilience measures into their farming systems that will help reduce damage locally and at the catchment scale, as well as helping to secure additional funding. The focus will be on addressing the causes of the problem rather than the symptoms and seeking long-term sustainable solutions.”

The officers will help individual farms adapt to the impacts of flooding, erosion and extreme climatic events.

They will also offer help with installing a pond for use to help control wildfire on heather moorland and a training event for farmers and land managers, considering the management of controlled burning and wildfire.

Following the devastating 2008 floods, which caused an estimated £1million damage in the Kale and Bowmont Valleys and more floods since, Cheviot Futures first focused on raising awareness of climate change and its impacts. The newly employed environmentalists will deliver the second phase of practical action and manage local projects.

Ms Hall will work as project officer for Cheviot Futures’ partner organisation Tweed Forum. She said: “I am looking forward to using my experience to implement practical measures to help farmers and land managers adapt to climate change, and the challenges it presents in the Cheviots. I want to encourage more land managers to consider implementing simple solutions to problems such as riverbank erosion, soil erosion, irrigation and water abstraction issues, flooding and wildfire risk.”

Latterly a Natural England land management and conservation advisor, Ms Hall previously worked for the Northumberland National Park Authority

And that authority’s project co-ordinator, Ms Hewitson, will oversee the promotional work, help organise events, and assist with funding applications, data input and research in the second phase action.

Funding for the posts and phase two action includes money from the EU-Holyrood-funded Scottish Borders LEADER scheme (£118,750) and the Northumberland Uplands Local Action Group (£82,375).

A spokesperson for Cheviot Futures, which is part funded by Scottish Borders Council, said: “With the effects of flooding uppermost on people’s minds, through flood disasters in the last three years, the knowledge of our vulnerability to natural disaster is widespread. The ability to resist and survive such events is a key task of Cheviot Futures, whose job it is to help farmers, landowners and communities cope with the impact of climate change in our region.”