Cheviot Futures

United in a Changing Landscape

Floodplain fencing and riparian planting work complete at Venchen; March 2012

Sustainable Riparian Management

Venchen, Yetholm, Scottish Borders

This project represents the development of a floodplain specification for fencing works, and the sympathetic planting of riparian (riverside) land in a manner that balances the farming, habitat and biodiversity, flood management and community/public access interests on a site.

The site is on the floodplain at Yetholm, where the haughland lies between the settlements of Kirk Yetholm and Town Yetholm.
The site is part of Venchen Farm, is used extensively for public access, including a section of the long distance footpath St Cuthberts Way. In addition, the Kelso Ride route crosses the site, and the Town Yetholm side of the site is used each year to host the Yetholm Border Shepherds Show.

Floodplain specification fencing
Fencing on floodplains is a tricky issue. The removal of livestock access to watercourses is beneficial for managing sediment and nutrient input to the river, and allows the development of rough natural vegetation which assists with flood management and riverbank stabilisation.

However, the risk of damage or loss of fencelines is significant, and comes with a substantial price tag for farm businesses.
The fencing work at Venchen has been done in a way to maximise the resilience of the fence to flood events.
By fencing in short sections, with regular break points in the form of railed sections between discrete sections of fence, and tension points within wires, the risk of total loss and significant damage can be reduced.
When flood water passes through the site, the fence is designed to detach at the break points under pressure from high flows. Once water recedes, the fence can then be re-erected with less effort and replacement materials.
This theory was well tested in September 2012 during a large flood event where the fence came down close to an intended break point and was put back in place quickly at minimal cost.

Fencing to an enhanced specification is more costly than standard fencing approaches, but the initial costs are off-set by the reduced repair and replacement costs.

Riparian planting
The riparian zone created by the fencing works was then planted up in an overall low density, scattered clump approach using a range of native tree species.
Tree planting along the riparian corridor and on riversides increases the infiltration rate, and helps to slow down peak flows and back up and store flood waters.

The work at Venchen was completed using local fencing and planting contractors between December 2011 and February 2012.

See the Sustainable Riparian Management case study publication for more information.