Hawick flood defences now looking unlikely to be ready until 2023

Hawick’s long-awaited flood protection scheme is now looking unlikely to be completed by the end of the year after next.

Thursday, 26th March 2020, 12:44 pm
Hawick's Mansfield Park under water in 2015.

River defences along the Teviot and Slitrig Water are currently scheduled to be ready by autumn 2022, with further construction work due to be finished by the end of that year, but that timetable has had to be put back.

The lockdown announced this week to curb the spread of coronavirus and stricter guidance on safe working has led to most construction sites nationwide being shut down, including those for Hawick’s flood defences.

That means their delivery is set to fall at least weeks, and probably months, behind schedule, with completion in 2023 now looking likely, leaving the town vulnerable to floods such as those that hit it in 2005, 2013, 2015, 2016 and earlier this year in the meanwhile.

Flooding in Hawick's Wilton Lodge Park earlier this year.

A spokesperson for the Scottish Borders Council-led scheme said: “To date, the project has maintained full productivity and progress with the advanced works contract and preparations for the main works contract.

“However, it is clear that this situation will impact on the timescales for the delivery of the project.

“At this point, it is not possible to provide more information on the impact, but further updates will be provided once available.”

An announcement on the contractor picked to carry out the works is still to be made imminently, though, and that is expected to lead to the price-tag for the project, currently estimated at £44m, rising.

The scheme spokesperson continued: “All key staff on the project continue to work through remote working.

“Further to the covid-19 guidance issued this week, the decision has been made to close all advanced works construction activity on the Hawick flood protection scheme as soon as practicable this week. The scheme will remain closed until further notice.

“The long-planned closure of Commercial Road scheduled to commence this week has also been postponed.

“Preparations for the main works contract remain ongoing, and it is still the intention of the council to begin this contract through the announcement of the appointed contractor.

“However, the main construction works in Hawick will not commence at this time.”

Project director Conor Price added: “This decision has been taken with the primary focus being on the health and wellbeing of scheme employees and members of the public.

“Progression of the advanced works across the town has been to programme and all works are now concluded except at Lower Mansfield Road and Commercial Road.

“The advanced works in Lower Mansfield Road have now been paused.

“Whilst disappointing, I am sure we all understand the wholly unprecedented circumstances which have prompted this decision.

“The people of Hawick can be absolutely assured that all parties involved in the flood protection scheme remain 100% dedicated to the project and are fully committed to taking it forward as soon as it is appropriate and safe to do so.

“We will be fully prepared to pick up where we left off as soon as we are able and look forward to progressing this major construction project, which is so badly needed in the town.”

Further information on the scheme, plus updates on its resumption in due course, can be found at www.hawickfloodscheme.com