Coldstream wombles clear up flood debris

A team of people from Coldstream spent Saturday morning clearing away some of the debris left of the Lees Haugh after the River Tweed flooded the land five times this winter
A team of people from Coldstream spent Saturday morning clearing away some of the debris left of the Lees Haugh after the River Tweed flooded the land five times this winter

A 20+ strong team of volunteers cleared debris left on the Lees Haugh field at Coldstream after the River Tweed flooded five times this winter.

Colin McGregor of Coldstream Mains, who farms the land, said: “The Lees farmland has been completely flooded five times this winter from December 5. On average we would expect it to flood about one year in eight.

“A waterdyke was built around the farm in 1815 by French POWs from the Napoleonic Wars. This protects the farmland (which is on a flood plain) from flooding in moderate floods but as has happened this year when the water level exceeds the height of the dykes it floods the whole area so helping protect Coldstream from excessive flooding.

“This is how a flood plain should work!

“Usually there is very little damage to the land (apart from washed down debris left by the flood) as the dykes prevent the water current eroding it. Once the river level drops two penstock valves are opened to release the trapped water from within the dykes back to the river system. This needs to be done within three or four days of the flood to stop the crops from rotting and dying.

“We’ve had some damage to the dykes this year due to the frequency and levels of flooding. This will be repaired this summer.”

Colin described Coldstream community being at its best when over 20 people turned out to clear the debris off the dykes and the field.

Rannoch Daly, Coldstream resilient team co-ordinator, said: “We split into two teams: one working the bank downstream from the fishermen’s hut and the other proceeding upstream so that we met in the middle of the Lees Haugh loop.

“Bin bags, litter tongs and gloves were deployed and the task completed in two hours.”

Colin added: “Once it dries up we can then clear the rest of the debris (mostly tree trunks and large branches) mechanically which will take a number of days so the Lees is returned to its former glory for all to enjoy its riverside walk.