Newton Stewart remains at risk of major flood

Relief for local residents Innes Robb and Andrew Forsyth as the Fire and Rescue service bring them safely to firm ground. GG 2011083 12
Relief for local residents Innes Robb and Andrew Forsyth as the Fire and Rescue service bring them safely to firm ground. GG 2011083 12

Homes and business in Newton Stewart will remain at risk of a catastrophic flood, similar to November 2012, in order to save money.

A comprehensive flood defence scheme to protect the town is not economically viable, according to Dumfries and Galloway Council.

At next Tuesday’s Economy, Environment and Infrastructure Committee meeting in Dumfries, elected members will be told that, instead, a “low level of protection” scheme, that defends against a one in ten year flood, will be created, but not for at least another three years.

The Newton Stewart Flood Protection Scheme is third on the council’s priority list, behind the Whitesands in Dumfries and Stranraer, while nationally it also ranks behind Langholm. The council say a flood study showed the costs associated with creating defences to protect against a major flood were “more expensive than the benefits realised” and consequently, there would be no access to the Scottish Government funding needed to build it.

A council spokesman said: “The national ranking undertaken by SEPA, is principally based on the Benefit Cost Ratio (BCR).

“The Benefit Cost Ratio is derived from comparing the costs of designing, constructing and maintaining scheme against the benefits realised from the construction, principally the prevention of flood damage to properties.

“Based on the work to date it can be seen that the BCR for Newton Stewart is lower than the other three schemes in Dumfries and Galloway, hence it’s national ranking. All four schemes do however exceed the BCR ratio of one, meaning that we are eligible to bid for Scottish Government grant monies at the appropriate stage. It should also be noted that members have been asked to agree all four schemes are delivered in the first cycle (2016-2021) and that locally, Newton Stewart is given a priority over Langholm.”

Mid Galloway councillor Graham Nicol said: “Firstly, I am delighted that Newton Stewart has got onto Dumfries and Galloway Council’s Flood Prevention Scheme, but disappointed that it is not scheduled to be done until the second half of the funding cycle, which will be 2018 -2021. Newton Stewart is ranked at 20 out of 35 in the national priority list and third in Dumfries and Galloway. However, as a local member I will be fighting for this to be escalated up the priority list as quickly as possible. In my opinion, the Newton Stewart scheme is more pressing than any of the others.

“I encourage anyone who could potentially be affected by future flooding to take advantage of the council’s scheme where flood barriers can be purchased at a 50 per cent discount.”