Work on long-awaited flood defences in Hawick has been hit by a six-month hold-up.
That half-year postponement is a result of the £44m scheme’s procurement bidding process having to be extended due to unforeseen complications.
It means construction of new defences alongside the River Teviot and Slitrig Water in the town is now scheduled to start at the end of 2019, rather than next summer, as previously planned, and their completion date has been put back to mid-2022.
Townsfolk and other interested parties will be given a full update on the scheme at a community workshop being held this Thursday, December 6, from 7pm to 9pm, at Hawick Town Hall.
The project is designed to protect 900 residential and commercial properties at risk of flooding.
It will be the largest of its kind ever built in the Borders and will include the creation of a new pumping station at the Mansfield Road waste water treatment works, a new retaining wall along Commercial Road and four-mile cycleway and footpath linking Wilton Lodge Park and Weensland Road.
Hawick and Denholm councillor Stuart Marshall, chairman of Hawick Volunteer Flood Group, described that delay as disappointing but said he fully understands why it’s necessary.
He said: “The scheme unfortunately will be set back six months, but it’s important to let townsfolk know the reason behind this.
“When the scheme was first worked up, no one could have foreseen that during its evolvement, we would be adding three new footbridges and an upgrade to the sewage system at Mansfield Road and also now the prospect of our town having 7km of cycleways and footways linking Weensland to Wilton Lodge Park.
“These additions to the scheme are complex in their own right, and I have been assured by the project team that work on the ground will still be continuing and will indeed be visible throughout the coming months.
“I fully understand the reasons behind such an extension to the scheme.
“Our town has never been faced with such a massive project in living memory, and all of us who live there will have to suffer short-term pain in order to benefit from the long term gain.”
Mr Marshall called on townsfolk to come along to this week’s community workshop, adding: “The meeting is a very important one in relation to townsfolk gaining insight into road traffic management in the town over the coming months, particularly in Commercial Road and Mansfield Road, and I hope we can get a large turnout of public.
“I have every confidence in the project team, and whilst it is disappointing that we have this setback, I’m sure that many people will understand the reasons behind this latest announcement.”
As a result of the six-month delay now agreed, clearance of trees and shrubs currently under way is to be suspended to minimise the visual impact on the town.
More details of the project are available at www.hawickfloodscheme.com or www.facebook.com/hawickfloodprotectionscheme