Hawick flood pledge amid inquiry delay warning

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Scottish Borders Council this week underlined its commitment to a flood protection scheme for Hawick.

But the local authority warned that if a public inquiry takes place because of objections in the later stages of the scheme, it may not be in place until 2023. Tuesday’s Teviot and Liddesdale Area Forum heard that SBC is currently taking forward the scheme, with investigations, various surveys and the development of the outline design being undertaken, along with consultations.

A press statement released this week stated: “The council, which has a strong track record of delivering flood protection works across the Borders, created the Hawick Flood Protection Scheme in 2010.

“SBC is already legally bound to deliver the Hawick scheme and as part of the process SBC have to notify the thousands of people affected in any way by the construction of a flood protection scheme.”

The statement continued: “It is estimated the capital costs of constructing the scheme will be approximately £30million but if objections are lodged after the detailed design stage a public enquiry may be needed to resolve any issues and this could result in a delay of up to 12 months.

The statement added: “Hawick’s flood protection scheme is scheduled to begin construction in 2019 and be completed by 2022. However, it should be noted that if a public local enquiry is required, at least a further nine to 12 months will be added to the timeline.”

SBC’s executive member for infrastructure, Councillor Gordon Edgar, said: “It is absolutely crucial that people in Hawick engage with the council’s project team during the outline design phase, to allow any concerns to be mitigated now. Any objection raised after the outline design could lead to significant delays to the project.”

Flood group chairman and provost, Stuart Marshall, said: “To further delay this scheme because of objections and public enquiries is of grave concern to me and to mitigate this I would therefore urge everyone to take a keen interest and share their views and concerns with SBC once the preferred scheme is made public.

“It really is vital that any issues that arise are dealt with at an early stage. The public are to be consulted in 2016 and it’s important that they come forward with their views.”