SIR, – After reading about spending £31m at Ballater on flood defences, it seems a huge sum of money to try and hold back water, particularly as you can only hold water back for so long. It has to go somewhere.

Surely, clearing parts of the River Dee would most certainly have have made a difference as has always done in previous generations by farmers, landowners, ghillies and local contractors. Their knowledge about river management coming down generations is a huge wealth of information that should be used.

Looking at putting another arch in south side of the bridge going over the Dee, in Ballater, that in itself would allow more water through, along with the removal of some gravel bars below and above the bridge. With all the rest of flooding around the country now (the river Don, in Yorkshire especially and in previous years the Somerset flooding) happening as a result of poor maintenance and the reluctance of the various environmental agencies to allow farmers and contractors to dredge, clean an maintain river systems properly, it is little wonder why people are getting annoyed.

They should worry less about water voles and mute swans etc and worry more about people's property and livelihoods.There are very few natural watercourses in North-east of Scotland nearly all the burns, ditches etc, have all been man made probably 300-400 years ago and have to be maintained accordingly. The rest of the UK is little different.

There has always been and will continue to be flooding, but by using common sense and regular maintenance at the right times of the year, it would be a lot less of a problem. I also suggest that Scotland and England's rural communities should be working together to make this a politically-sensitive issue.

Patrick Sleigh


Hillhead of Daviot,