John Lamont calls for Hawick flood prevention work to begin ‘immediately’

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Borders MSP John Lamont has called for work to implement the flood prevention scheme to “begin immediately” following the devastation over the weekend.

The town saw some of the worst flooding since 2005 over the weekend, with around 600 residents evacuated, businesses and homes flooded and power cut off for some time.

Scottish Borders Council has been working on a flood prevention scheme since 2010 and is currently developing an outline design for an approved preferred scheme.

Mr Lamont released a statement today in support of Councillor Stuart Marshall’s calls for the Scottish Government to accelerate the process of implementing the flood prevention scheme, and has written to the cabinet secretary for rural affairs with this suggested action plan:

>Establish an accelerated programme for both the ministerial approval and central funding of a scheme. Under existing legislation any flood prevention scheme needs to be approved by ministers before an application for central funding is considered.

>Set aside central funding for the flood prevention scheme immediately. Flood prevention schemes proposed by Councils are eligible for grants of up to 80% of the cost of the scheme. The Government should guarantee this full amount will be available to Hawick.

>Ask officials from the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) to help Scottish Borders Council finalise the preferred flood prevention scheme within a strict timetable, published as soon as possible.

Mr Lamont has also offered to help with making insurance claims and has urged residents to get in touch with him if they are having difficulty.

He said: “The reaction of residents, volunteers and the emergency services over the weekend was fantastic, not just in Hawick but elsewhere in the Borders. To see the damage caused by the Teviot was heart-breaking.

“With so many homes and businesses damaged in Hawick there is now an overwhelming case for a flood prevention scheme for the town. Residents deserve action to be taken quickly and work needs to begin today. Scottish Borders Council is required to draw up the scheme, but there is much the Scottish Government can do to help.

“I’ve written to the cabinet secretary today to call for an accelerated programme for the creation, approval and funding of a scheme.

“In particular, the government must guarantee and set aside the full percentage of funding that Scottish Borders Council is entitled to and publish a timetable for the creation and approval of the scheme. We must not allow plans to be kicked in to the long grass like they have been in the past.”

He added: “I have also been speaking closely with representatives from the insurance industry. Any residents who need help making a claim should get in touch.”