SBC consider Jed flood defence options

A flash flood in Jedburgh on Sunday saw shop owners come together in a massive clean-up operation in the town centre. Inside Rob Morrow's Barber shop in the Castlegate.
A flash flood in Jedburgh on Sunday saw shop owners come together in a massive clean-up operation in the town centre. Inside Rob Morrow's Barber shop in the Castlegate.

A SCHEME built at a notorious Selkirk burn could be used in an effort to protect flood-hit Jedburgh.

Scottish Borders Council’s director of environment and infrastructure Rob Dickson said a system similar to one used on the Long Philip Burn – which saw sills and a barrier installed upstream to stop sediment and logs washing downstream – was a possibility for the Skip Running Burn.

A flash flood in Jedburgh on Sunday saw shop owners come together in a massive clean-up operation in the town centre.

A flash flood in Jedburgh on Sunday saw shop owners come together in a massive clean-up operation in the town centre.

Mr Dickson was speaking at Jedburgh Community Council in the wake of one of the most dramatic flash floods to hit the town on August 5.

Around 50 homes and businesses were damaged after torrential rain saw the Skip Running Burn overflow at the mouth of a culvert at the top of the town, resulting in water levels rising two metres in less than 15 minutes.

Mr Dickson confirmed an investigation into the flood by engineering consultants Halcrow Group is due to produce a draft report in the next two weeks.

Asked about replicating the defences used on the Long Philip Burn – which burst its banks in 2003 causing devastation to the nearby Bannerfield estate and Selkirk’s Philiphaugh rugby ground – Mr Dickson said: “That is a possibility.

A flash flood in Jedburgh on Sunday saw shop owners come together in a massive clean-up operation in the town centre. Duck Row in Jed.

A flash flood in Jedburgh on Sunday saw shop owners come together in a massive clean-up operation in the town centre. Duck Row in Jed.

“It depends on the lie of the land. It is one of the options being looked at.

“It works best when you have a slow-running longer river rather than a faster-running burn with variations.”

But Mr Dickson did rule out increasing the capacity of the culvert as too costly due to a number of buildings being previously built across the burn.

He added: “It would be very difficult and expensive.

“We could work at the mouth of the culvert, but anything actually increasing the capacity would require large-scale engineering work.

“Fifty, 100 or 200 years ago, culverts were built over.

“No engineer would now suggest it as you would get the situation we had a few weeks ago.

“We would not go in that direction. What we have is what we have, and that is part of the challenge.”

Mr Dickson also dismissed suggestions that previous engineering reports on the flood risks associated with the burn had made proposals which were not acted upon by SBC.

Mr Dickson said: “That is part of what is being reviewed.

“There were a range of suggestions, but nothing taken forward as a concrete proposal.

“There were no immediate weaknesses there (by SBC) as far as we can see.”

Ex-community councillor Frank Murrow, whose son’s barber shop on the Castlegate was among those flooded out, says the insurance excess for the building next year is likely to be £2,000.

He called on SBC to be more proactive in looking after the Skip Running Burn.

Mr Murrow said: “If the burn was properly looked after by the council it would not back up.

“If the council could get the rubbish such as branches out of the river it would make a difference.

“When the workmen arrive after getting the alarm call it is too late as the water is too high and too dangerous for them.

“My son’s shop has now flooded two years in a row. This is causing a lot of worry for people in the town in terms of insurance.”

But Mr Dickson paid tribute to the efforts of all services involved in the clean up, which is almost complete.

“The performance of the emergency services on Sunday morning, and various agencies throughout the day was impressive,” he told the community council.

“People were taken aback with what we were able to achieve in the first 24 hours and we then built on that in the days afterwards.

“Credit where credit is due, and of course that includes the community itself.”

Community council chairman Richard Gordon echoed Mr Dickson’s thoughts.

He said: “The emergency services, SBC and the local community rallied round in very difficult circumstances.

“It was potentially a life-threatening incident.”

SBC have applied for emergency financial assistance from the Scottish Government for Jedburgh and the central Borders, with St Boswells, Hawick and Earlston among the communities hit by the torrential downpour of August 5.

But the council’s emergency planning officer Jim Fraser, who will make a presentation to Jedburgh CC next month on the benefits of being involved in its community resilience scheme, warned: “With climate change, it is likely we will get more of these flooding events.”

Anyone in Jedburgh still seeking help can visit SBC’s contact centre on Exchange Street or the council’s dedicated webpage www.scotborders.gov.uk/jedburghfloodadvice

Residents can also get information by calling 0300 100 1800 (out of office hours 01896 752111).