Flood plan steps closer to approval

carolyn riddell-carre
carolyn riddell-carre

COUNCILLORS have now approved the final outline design for the new Selkirk Flood Protection Scheme (Selkirk FPS) and authorised the local authority project team behind it to begin the statutory approvals processes as required by parliamentary legislation.

The preferred scheme approved by Scottish Borders Council in January has been developed during the year to produce a final outline design.

Project team staff undertook substantial additional consultation with project stakeholders, mainly through a second public exhibition and meetings with various working groups, to validate the design with the people it will protect.

The documentation required by the statutory approvals process has also been developed throughout the year, and will be available for public review for a 28-day period, starting when the scheme is published next month.

The team will then present the Selkirk FPS to the council for a decision, as stipulated in the Flood Risk Management (Scotland) Act 2009.

Speaking after councillors approved the final outline design at last Thursday’s full council meeting, Councillor Jim Fullarton (Con, East Berwickshire), executive member for roads and infrastructure, said it had taken a long time to reach this stage and thanked staff involved for the dedication and commitment they have shown in reaching the final outline design.

“Once we know the arrangements for the allocation of the Scottish Government £42million fund which will be available for flood protection schemes, we will be making every effort to access that money,” added Mr Fullarton.

“We stand the best chance of being successful by moving as quickly as possible to approving the scheme following the 28-day objection period for members of the public early next year.”

During last Thursday’s debate on the issue, Councillor Carolyn Riddell-Carre (Con, Selkirkshire), pictured above, said flood protection work had been a priority for the administration group on the council.

“We are now in a position to bid for money and I understand the government will pay up to 80 per cent towards it. But we need to find out if the money would be paid in phases or at the completion of the work – we need to ask if it can be paid in phases. That said, this is excellent news for Selkirk.”

Her fellow councillor, Vicky Davidson (LD, Selkirkshire), added that the scheme had been on the drawing boards for the last eight years.

“Finally, however, we have hopefully reached the point where we will now be able to deliver it. I hope everyone in Selkirk will now get behind this scheme and add their voice to make sure the Scottish Government pays for it.”

While he welcomed the news for Selkirk, Jock Houston, (LD, Hawick and Denholm), said the priority list for flood protection resources had been Galashiels first, followed by Selkirk and then Hawick.

“Hopefully Selkirk will be successful and we’ll be as equally successful in the future,” he said.

However, council leader David Parker (IND, Leaderdale and Melrose) sounded a note of caution, pointing out the £42million was not new money, but rather had been “top-sliced” from Scottish local authorities in the first place and was now part of a central pot of cash.

“We’re all paying for this. The Scottish Government controls the pot and it will decided how it is to be allocated,” he said. “This allocation process has not yet been agreed and it will be some weeks before there is any anouncement.

“But there will be a significant queue for a share of this money as there are quite a lot of local authorities in the same position. For example, there is a high- profile scheme in Elgin costed at £90million.

“But I think the good news is that it has now been recognised in Scotland that a national flooding pot should remain in place.”

z In 1926, a major flood on the Ettrick Water caused a breach of the Selkirk cauld and serious flooding.

Half-a-century later, in 1977, a flood on the Ettrick caused the collapse of Selkirk bridge and inundation of the Philiphaugh, Riverside and Lindean areas.

In May, 2003, intense rainfall on the Long Philip Burn led to serious floding in Banerfield and Philiphaugh.

And two years ago, a flood water almost solely from the Yarrow Water came very close to overwhelming flood protection defences in Selkirk.