Hawick residents are being asked to get behind the town’s flood protection scheme for the sake of those who have had their home devastated by the power of the Teviot.
Councillors last week gave preliminary approval to the scheme which will defend over 900 properties from a one in 75 year flood event.
While the £44m scheme needs to pass two more stages, the decision means the project team now has the authority to start the detailed design stage and set-up new working groups.
It is intended to draw on local knowledge and use the collaborative working model that was so successful for the Selkirk Flood Protection Scheme to move forward.
There are still 36 open objections to the scheme, citing concerns over themes such as the visual impact of the scheme; the the project failing to consider other options fully; and that it would be detrimental to business and tourism, amongst others.
However, all objections which are still open come from people not in the area within the one-in-75-year flood event, which means the council was free to make the preliminary decision to proceed with the project without referring to Holyrood for a pulic local inquiry.
Councillor Stuart Marshall, who is chair of the Hawick Volunteer Flood Group, told The Southern: “Im delighted that SBC has produced the latest progress report and is now actually making a preliminary decision to confirm the scheme for our town.
“A scheme of this magnitude will always rise in cost and this surely has to be another good reason to crack on and get it delivered.
“This vast majority of townsfolk are supporting this scheme and once delivered it will protect around 1000 homes and commercial properties .
“I personally don’t have any issues regarding visual impact and anyone who has , should really think first about the poor people in our town who have on several occasions had the entire contents of their homes ruined by floodwater.
“I know these flood victims can’t wait for the time to come when they can go to their beds and sleep easy without the fear of the River Teviot gushing through their homes.”
At the council meeting last Thursday, Councillor David Paterson said: “Why would anyone object to such a scheme?
“I witnessed many scenes of devastation during the floods and some poor people were flooded more than once. I think it is a good scheme.”
Conor Price, senior project manager for the Hawick Flood Protection Scheme, and who also led the award-winning group who provided a similar scheme in Selkirk, told us: “The preliminary decision is another major step forward for this project. The team will now commence the establishment of the Community Vision Working Group and we invite anyone interested in working with the project to get involved.
“The Community Vision Working Group will aim to link the people and businesses of Hawick into the development of the design of the flood scheme during the detailed design stage.”
It has emerged that the cost of the scheme has risen from £40.7m to £44.3, due mainly to the extra cost of the flood protection work needed in Commercial Road.
If you want to get involved in the working groups, email firstname.lastname@example.org