VIDEO: Tidal surges combine with rain to flood Perthshire farm

Think of huge areas of land under water and most minds will turn to the Somerset Levels or the Thames Valley, but there are cases of serious flooding nearer to home.

David Hay recently back from Sochi where he was coaching the GB ladies curling team is having to cope with a distressing and expensive situation on his farm at Easter Rhynd, near Perth, with the Tay flooding 140 acres of his farm to a depth of 10ft twice a day.

The farm lies between the rivers Earn and Tay, just above the point where they meet.

The water was particularly deep across the affected fields on Monday afternoon as one of the highest tides of the year pushed up the Tay estuary.

Mr Hay, who farms with his wife Erika and son Finlay, said; “The normal maximum tidal rise and fall is around 4.7 metres, but in early January we had a tide which was measured just upstream at Perth at 5.5 metres.

“We first spotted a problem back in December with water breaching the bank. Now that breach has grown to around 50 metres wide and with the soil being scoured away it is probably 12 metres deep.

“We think we will need 7,200 cubic metres of material to restore the bank, but we won’t be able to start work until the river is much lower in May and June.”

The area affected is in two fields, one of 75 acres, which is sown in wheat, and another of 65 acres, which was due to grow potatoes this year.

“This is alluvial silt and some of the best land in Scotland,” Mr Hay said.

“I am not sure what our losses will be, but the wheat is almost certainly ruined now and I don’t know if we will be able to plant potatoes.”

As a measure of the losses involved he reckoned these two fields produced £250,000 worth of pre-pack quality potatoes and wheat.

His loss of crop in 2014 and the cost of repairing the breach is uninsured and, as it stands at the moment, will have to be met from the farm’s own resources.

There are Defra funds available for flooding compensation in England, but not in Scotland.

The banking that was breached dates back to around 1850 and was constructed by driving stakes into the silt at the river’s edge and then building up a wall of clay behind this palisade.

Remarkably, some of these stakes are still visible but the majority have rotted away.

In the late 1980s Mr Hay and his father Chuck widened and raised the height of the banking, but work was stopped because of Scottish Environment Protection Agency concerns about the material being used.

It is just beyond the point where the work stopped that the breach occurred.

“The banking has been under enormous pressure this winter,” Mr Hay said. “On the 15th of January we had one of the highest tides on record there had been a lot of rainfall to the west, the atmospheric pressure was very low and this combined with strong winds from the west driving the water down the Earn and the Tay resulted in a massive tidal surge and that really opened up the breach.”