Preventing flooding in Selkirk to come naturally

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NATURE will be used to alleviate the threat of flooding in Selkirk.

Steps have begun to include Natural Flood Management (NFM) measures in the £19million Selkirk Flood Protection Scheme which was launched earlier this year.

A working group will now look at how NFM – which aims to restore natural habitats such as wetlands and woodland to slow flooding downstream – can be introduced in the Ettrick and Yarrow valleys.

Hugh Chalmers, collaborative action co-ordinator for Tweed Forum, which is part of the working group, said it requires the co-operation of farmers and landowners in order to carry out the initiative.

“We can suggest to the land managers which NFM measures are best suited to a specific location,” added Mr Chalmers.

“We can also examine whether the NFM measure can be integrated with existing farm activities and whether these measures might attract grant support. Ultimately, it’s about finding a balance so that the land can fulfil its agricultural potential and this new desire to use the land to reduce flood risk downstream.”

Councillor Jim Fullarton, chairman of the Flood Advisory Group, told us: “Including NFM measures in the scheme will commence the process of using the land’s natural advantages to reduce the flood risk to Selkirk.

“Correctly-developed NFM measures can work long into the future when the walls we build have passed their functional 100-year life.

“NFM measures will also ensure we achieve maximum value of money as we deliver multiple benefits through the money we spend in protecting Selkirk from flooding.”

Councillors approved the spending of around £500,000 to progress the scheme to the formal design stage in January, and the submission of a flood protection order in accordance with new legislation.

The largest part of the scheme, costing more than £10million, will tackle the threat to the Riverside area from the Ettrick Water and involves the installation of 1,600 metres of flood walls to protect around 100 local business premises.

A total of 600 homes, including those in Bannerfield, the town’s rugby club, sewage works, Victoria Park and Philiphaugh Community School, will be shielded from future flooding problems by the scheme, which will be paid for through funding from SBC’s capital budget.

It is estimated that flooding can cause damage of almost £30million to the Royal Burgh.

Souters gave their views at a public exhibition in May, with comments still being considered by project designers Halcrow Group Ltd. The project team, headed by Conor Price, is currently finalising the design for the protection scheme.

And they are now keen to hear the views of members of the public on the proposals in both the Ettrick and Yarrow valleys, where they will be visiting next month.

For more information or to supply suggestions visit www.selkirkfloodscheme.com or email SBC’s Selkirk Flood Protection Scheme manager Conor Price – conor.price@scotborders.gov.uk