COSLA flood scheme warning

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Leaders of the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA) have warned that the scale and complexity of large scale flood projects throughout Scotland could impact on timescales for local projects like Newton Stewart.

In a report to next Tuesday’s meeting of the Economy, Environment and Infrastructure Committee in Dumfries, COSLA Leaders say that the statutory process can add up to 12 years to the delivery of flood protection schemes.

Their report states: “Taken together, the 42 Flood Protection Schemes set out in the Flood Risk Management Strategies for Scotland, amount to an extremely ambitious programme of work prioritised over a six-year planning cycle from 2016 to 2021.

To put the planned volume of work into context, only seven new schemes have been taken forward since the last time the funding arrangements were changed in 2012.

“Under the Flood Risk Management (Scotland) Act 2009, local authorities are responsible for developing, designing and promoting flood protection schemes. The Act sets out a statutory process which local authorities must undertake before a proposed flood protection scheme can be confirmed. The process provides an opportunity for objections to the proposed scheme to be lodged, which the Local Authority is obliged to seek to address. This process has yet to begin for most of the schemes on the list, and can take a considerable amount of time if there is local opposition to the proposals. For example, one preferred flood protection scheme was selected by the Council in February 2004. A Flood Prevention Order was published in October 2007, but, due to the need for a public local inquiry to resolve some local objections, it was not confirmed by Scottish Ministers until December 2010 with construction starting in April 2011. The scheme was completed in January 2016, a full 12 years from the original selection of the scheme.”

The report also estimated that to proceed with all 42 schemes as currently proposed would require a minimum of £42 million every year from the Scottish Government to local authorities via the local government settlement.

The £7.5m scheme earmarked for Newton Stewart will be 80 per cent funded by the Scottish Government from the general capital allocation and the remaining 20 per cent by Dumfries and Galloway Council from its capital budget.

The EEI meeting will be asked to approve the Solway Local Plan District Local Flood Risk Management Plan and agree that future bids for the Council’s 20 per cent contribution will be made to Policy and Resources Committee.

The Newton Stewart project incudes the advance works of raising the Sparling Bridge during the necessary rebuild of the abutments.

As well as Newton Stewart, a flood protection scheme in Stranraer will be allocated £0.4million, funded by the Council, but if costs increase, an approach may be made to the Scottish Government for funding.

The local authority will also undertake a flood study in Creetown and refresh the shoreline management plan to better inform any future investment in coastal infrastructure. Advice is also available for residents to protect their property from flooding.