‘Gravel desperately needs to be moved’

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A flood-hit local resident, whose home insurance premium has shot up fivefold since 2005, is urging Scottish Borders Council (SBC) to dredge the Teviot.

St George’s Lane householder Liz Watt’s call is being echoed by local ward councillor Watson McAteer who is imploring officials from SBC and the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) to attend a public meeting at which it is hoped townsfolk will be told what the plans are to combat future flooding.

And Mrs Watt’s plea for anti-flood work to be carried out received a shot in the arm this week when Scottish Borders Council said its officers will meet with town coucillors to discuss dredging the Teviot.

SEPA, however, maintains that dredging the Teviot would be of “little benefit in reducing flood levels”.

Mrs Watt said: “I’ve lived by the Teviot for 12 years and the situation is getting worse. SBC needs to start looking at what is happening under the river and not just what is happening on top . . . and this gravel desperately needs to be removed.”

She also highlighted the financial burden.

She told us: “Costs are spiralling out of control even though people are doing everything they can to protect their properties. My insurance [premium] has increased fivefold since 2005, which I find more difficult [to pay] as each year passes, and I’m sure everyone else does, too.”

Councillor McAteer commented: “I’ve been in contact with SEPA about the dredging and maintenance of the Teviot and Slitrig but, not surprisingly, they place responsibility on Scottish Borders Council, and I’m encouraging SBC to listen to those with local experience.”

A SEPA spokesperson said there had been talks in the past relating to the dredging of the Slitrig and Teviot through Hawick into which the council commissioned a modelling study.

He continued: “We understand that the conclusions of this study in broad terms were that dredging would have little benefit in reducing flood levels and that water levels are primarily controlled by hydraulic structures such as weirs and bridges.”

The spokesperson also said SEPA had been approached by SBC over the deposit of gravel on the Slitrig just upstream of the junction with the Teviot and it is considering whether there is a need for works there.

Mr McAteer hopes the meeting will be held in March.