Letter: Forest loss does not explain floods

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Sir: In reply to the letter from Andy Wightman and others representing 'Reforesting Scotland' (25 January), I would make the following points.

The recent flood flows experienced in the River Tay system occurred as a result of torrential rain melting a previous heavy snowfall accompanied by a sudden rise in temperature of about 10 degrees.

While this is a relatively rare event with a long statistical return period, it is by no means unique and was, in fact, exceeded by the flood of 1814 when few of the contributing conditions highlighted in Mr Wightman's letter applied.

The matter is further complicated by the fact that the North Muirton local authority housing estate built in the late Sixties was developed on the natural floodplain of the River Tay - a mistake in planning rather than a result of changes in catchment characteristics.

The construction of many hydroelectricity generating schemes since the war has also aided flood water retention by contributing an element of upstream storage within the river system.

There are many who would welcome some structured regeneration of the Caledonian forest, but would rather that a stronger case than interference with the hydrological cycle was put forward.

Yours faithfully,




26 January