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Iain Brown - NFU Scotland

Water restrictions will be catastrophic for growers

With the recent hot, dry weather, water supplies are getting low in Scotland and one region particularly affected is Fife on the east coast.

Restrictions on extracting water from rivers and burns is being considered by environment agency SEPA.

Iain Brown is part of grower co-operative, East of Scotland Growers, a spokesperson for NUF Scotland and grows broccoli and cauliflower near Newport in Fife. He said this decision by SEPA would be catastrophic for growers.

Last year growers were financially crippled by labour and transport shortages which forced them to plough crops back in, this year they are facing a whole new set of challenges.

"Due to the hot, dry weather we are already seeing yields down by 30%, if we are forced to stop extracting water from rivers and burns we will see yields drop to 50%. We have been concentrating on growing short cycle crops such as broccoli and cauliflower which are 90 day crops, but the establishment period is critical and the plants need water."

If SEPA decides to restrict water extraction, the only other option for growers are farm reservoirs or boreholes, but not many farmers have access to these. During the recent Open golf tournament in St Andrews water was brought by tankers, but according to Iain the returns on farming are far too low to justify the cost of this.

The water taken from rivers and burns does not affect the domestic supply to households, but may have environmental consequences.

"This is a once in 40 years event, we only ask SEPA to take a pragmatic approach."

For more information:
Iain Brown
NFU Scotland
Tel: +44 131 472 4000

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