A £1.6million programme of flood protection measures at either end of Galashiels has been given the go-ahead by the planning committee of Scottish Borders Council (SBC).
Meeting on Monday, councillors unanimously endorsed proposals which will involve erecting walls along the banks of the Gala Water, raising existing walls and embankments and erecting a pumping station at Netherdale where properties in Dale Street have borne the brunt of recent flooding events.
Although consent was granted in principle, applicants SBC will undertake further surveys before a final design is drawn up to address concerns from the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) over the loss of habitats for bats, otters and breeding birds.
SEPA also wants assurances that water quality will not be adversely affected and that care will be taken to prevent the spread of invasive plant species, such as Japanese knotweed.
The construction work will comprise 20 operations focused on Plumtree/Wilderhaugh to the west and Netherdale to the east.
Works at the former area will include a flood wall erected at Comleybank Bridge and the raising of Plumtree road bridge.
At Netherdale, a 100-metre flood wall will be erected along Dale Street with the current path reinstated. An embankment of equal length will be raised and a pumping station installed to remove cut-off drainage and overland flow.
Planning officer Carlos Clark said: “The development has the potential to provide significant benefit to the town in terms of protection from flooding, in particular the Netherdale area.”
Galashiels is the first town earmarked for such extensive works, with Selkirk and Hawick due to follow when funds become available.
A spokesperson for SBC said: “Following ecological surveys, the detailed design will commence in this financial year with construction of the 20 elements of the scheme spread over the next five financial years to 2016-17.
“The sequence of the work has still to be determined and will depend on the outcome of the detailed design.”