Flood blight property concerns

A council officer has warned that riverside properties in Newton Stewart may not merit protection from future flood waters because of the costs involved.

That shock scenario came in a briefing note from Alistair Speedie, Director of Economy, Environment and Infrastructure, to the Cree Valley Community Council Floor Forum who met this week to discuss how to protect the town.

As the local authority work towards creating flood protection for Newton Stewart, Mr Speedie informed the members that building defences to a set budget might mean, “some low lying properties will not be protected as costs predicted are uneconomic.”

Although no properties were identified by the council officer, Mid Galloway Councillor Alistair Geddes immediately commented that such a move would “blight” those properties and he advised the forum to seek further clarification without identifying the properties in question. CVCC member Jim Brown suggested that Mr Speedie was jumping the gun in his doom-laden prediction as there wasn’t enough information back from surveys on the flood prone area.

He said: “Alistair Speedie is prejudging the thing completely as a very detailed process has to be gone thorough so how can he possibly know that at this stage?”

The subject of dredging the river was discussed, but SEPA officer John Gorman pointed out that a build up of gravel deposits were a natural phenomena of the river. Mr Gorman explained: “The water course is trying to get back to where it was in the 1950s. These things are a natural erosion over a fairly flatish river bed. Pools that are dredged just get filled in again. There is a difference between superficial gravel being removed and dredging the back stream of a river.”

Councillor Geddes said it was important to know if there was any advantages to be gained by removing the gravel, and if so, what were they?

The plans for the new wall to replace the one that collapsed were also inspected and some design concerns over the reinforced concrete structure had been raised by CVCC member Jim Brown and the members want to meet with the council’s design team to see more detail. But SEPA’s John Gorman told the members if there were to be changes made, a new licence would be need to be approved by all the authorities involved and that process would impact on the 12-week window of opportunity for the work to be done, knocking it back to an unsuitable time of the year.

Special flood insurance cover for small businesses was also to be raised with both MP Richard Arkless and MSP Finlay Carson.