£31.4m project set for official opening

selkirk flood defences from the air.
selkirk flood defences from the air.

A decade after planning began, the Selkirk Flood Protection Scheme will be officially opened at the end of this month.

The scheme will be unveiled by Scottish Borders Council leader David Parker and Scottish environment minister Roseanna Cunningham on Monday, February 27, at 11am, 10 years after planning first began.

A short ceremony will be held at the Bannerfield Plaza next to the new Bridge Street footbridge where pupils from nearby schools will bury a time capsule within the plaza.

The £31.4m scheme will protect 600 properties and will include 3.4km of walls and embankments from the Ettrick and Yarrow confluence all the way up to the Oregon Timber building at Dunsdalehaugh.

Coinciding with the opening will be a two-day exhibition of 13 proposed artworks that will provide the scheme’s finishing touches. 11 artists will each display their ideas in a hope to bag a £30,000 commission at one of the three allocated spots in the town. These include Long Philip Burn Park west of Bannerfield, the plaza area north of the new Bridge Street footbridge and the riverside corridor between that footbridge and the Common Riding crossing point on the Ettrick Water.

The exhibition will take place at the town’s Philiphaugh Community School between 1-5pm on Monday, February 27, as well as between 11am and 7pm on Tuesday, February 8.

Residents will be able to view the proposed works and have their say before the flood protection scheme’s project board make their final decision. That decision will be influenced by interviews with the artists and any feedback received from the public and relevant stakeholders. The scheme’s project board has set aside £105,000 for the artworks.

Sculpture artist Lara Greene, of Selkirk, who provided artwork at Selkirk Library depicting scenes from the legend of Tam Lin, is one of the artists hoping to secure a place. The mother of two, whose other commissioning clients include Edinburgh International Festival and N-Power, said: “I have proposed a series of organically shaped sculptures in metal inspired by forms in the flow of the water.

“They would invite interaction with a spirit of playfulness meaning they can be sat upon, lay on, or climbed upon. They would be situated near the new plaza area in the park at Bannerfield. From there you would be able to view the river as the wall is low.

“A very important aspect of my proposal is the community engagement as I would plan events groups and classes with the aim of exploring the potential of the stony area below the wooden footbridge as a community space. I want people to really use and appreciate what they have here, which is a fantastic piece of natural environment easily accessible at their doorstep.”

“An important part of the Public art projects is community engagement which is such a positive thing for residents to get involved with so they can influence and take ownership of the area.”

The scheme, which took two years to construct, was completed in November last year.

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