WHILE Northern Ireland managed to escape the worst impacts of Storm Arwen, farmers and crofters in Scotland have been left counting the cost after bearing the brunt of the first official storm of the winter.
Early reports from NFU Scotland members indicate that the damage to some businesses is substantial with many still waiting on roads to open and power and telecommunications to be restored at the beginning of the week. The list includes severe damage to buildings and structures, both large and small, including roofs, walls, cladding and polytunnels. It has also brought down large areas of trees, adding to the severe disruption.
One member has estimated that the structural damage to his business is approximately £70,000. Another has re-corded that an acre of Sitka Spruce trees on his farm has been blown down. As members start to assess the total scale of the damage, it is already apparent that it will run into many millions.
Speaking on Monday, NFU Scotland President Martin Kennedy said: “From personal experience, I know how extreme the storm was. There will have been hundreds of trees blown down on our own estate near Aberfeldy and Sunday was spent helping clear roads and driveways to allow people access to and from their homes and get services into the area to reconnect electricity and telephone services.
“As we gather reports from our members up and down the country, the damage to many businesses has been extensive and that farmers’ role in the clear up operation for local towns and villages has been hampered by heavy snow in places.
“Much of the damage will have been insurable and we have already contacted our partners in NFU Mutual for an update on the storm’s impact.
“Our extensive network of group secretaries and Mutual agents across Scotland will be working hard with our members today, helping them assess and start the process of restarting and recovering from the impact of the storm. Some of our offices in the north east remain out of electricity but calls are being diverted.
“Many parts of the country remain without power, internet service and phones and these may not be up and running until nearer the end of this week. I would ask our members to take the time to check on nearby friends and neighbours and see if they need any assistance.”