‘Land will disappear unless council act’ – call for Cauld action

A MAN who has lost 60 square metres of land from the end of his garden in the past seven years due to a river changing course has called on the council to act quickly and pay for work on a type of barrier that is causing flowing water to erode the adjacent riverbank.

Harry Turnbull has become frustrated at the lack of action taken by the local authority during a two-year campaign by residents of Liddesdale Road for alterations to Slitrig Cauld – a small wall or weir – that is causing a stretch of water to cause erosion of the riverbank.

The council has insisted it is committed to acting as quickly as possible and has tabled an offer to pay up to half the cost of work to the cauld and repair to the houses of Mr Turnbull and four of his neighbours.

“If we go through heavy rainfall again, we’ll lose more of the embankment, which will make the repairs even more expensive again. We want the council to have a licence so work can take place on the cauld and embankments early next year.”

“The council told us they didn’t have anything to do with the cauld before admitting they may have legal responsibility towards its owners [Buccleuch Estates].” In response, the local authority says Buccleuch Estates only recently requested work to be carried out on the site.

Slitrig Cauld was constructed originally to direct water for use in nearby mills. The since-redundant lade was sealed and then, in 1989, a central section of the cauld was breached by the local authority to allow easier passage for salmon. The latter action resulted in high flood water flowing too quickly and changing the river course, and residents say lowering the height of the centre of the cauld would solve the problem.

The five properties affected require repairs that would cost around £25,000, and while residents are prepared to go to court to demand full payment should the council take no action, they have offered to pay half the cost of work required.

Local residents have already spent a four-figure sum of money to save what remains of their land, including around £900 on a professional report that was deemed insufficient because the local authority required further information. The council has commissioned a study by consultants Halcrow, the result of which is due to be published in September.

The council says it is working with them to find a solution to the problem. An SBC spokesman added: “The council is currently undertaking a geomorphological and flood risk assessment of the reach from upstream of Crowbyres bridge to downstream of Lynwood bridge and will, as requested, pass a copy to Mr Turnbull when it is completed. It has been delayed for a few weeks due to the high river levels, but is expected before the end of September.

“The council and owners will be entering into a formal legal agreement for any works that are then undertaken.”