8. To ask the Scottish Government how it monitors the impacts of river bank erosion and what support it provides for those who are affected by the erosion. (S6O-00130)
The Scottish Environment Protection Agency is responsible for monitoring rivers to assess their ecological status, including physical habitat condition. Local authorities also monitor rivers in relation to flood risk and work with relevant transport agencies to monitor the impact of river bank erosion on transport infrastructure.
We are all responsible for protecting our land and property from the impacts of river bank erosion. The Scottish Government and SEPA provide helpful advice and guidance on how to minimise river bank erosion and how to best protect our land.
The impact of river bank erosion for some residents in Fenwick, in my constituency, is pretty severe and has been getting steadily worse over recent years as a result of climate change impacts. Their properties and gardens are literally sliding into the adjoining river, bit by bit, and the engineering solutions that are required to shore up the river banks are substantial and beyond their ability to afford.
Is the Government aware of that issue across Scotland? Would it consider a scheme to help the many people who find themselves in such a situation, which is not of their making?
I entirely understand the member’s concerns about the difficulties that his constituents face and the risks to their homes and gardens from river bank erosion, particularly given the distress that has recently been caused by flooding in Kilmarnock.
As I said, the current position is that home owners are responsible for protecting their property. However, if the member wishes to write to me with more details of the situation that he raises, I will give it further consideration, given the wider implications of the issue across Scotland. I will also seek an update from SEPA on its interaction with local authorities to gauge the impact of river bank erosion on home owners in Scotland.