McAteer raises his concerns over riverbeds

Councillors Stuart Marshall and Watson McAteer
Councillors Stuart Marshall and Watson McAteer

Councillor Watson McAteer has written to SEPA highlighting concerns over the riverbeds of both the Teviot and the Slitrig and has called for the rivers to be dredged if it will help in a flood situation.

Mr McAteer wrote to SEPA chief executive Terry O’Hearn last week saying: “Over the course of a number of years the riverbed has changed significantly as a result of a substantial build-up of gravel and resultant vegetation with the water course becoming almost unrecognisable to many.

“This gravel build-up is seen by many to be a contributing cause to recent flooding, and local councillors are fielding numerous requests to explain why nothing is apparently being done to help reduce this flooding risk.

“I am aware from the ‘River business management plan for Scotland river basin district 2015-2027’ that specific reference is made to the physical condition of the water environment with a reference to contributing to flood risk management. However, what I am not clear about is whether or not SEPA have any plans to dredge or remove this excessive build-up of gravel and vegetation in the river Teviot at or near Hawick.

Mr McAteer told the Hawick News: “There is no doubt that the physical shape and structure of both the Teviot and Slitrig has changed considerably over the years.

“Many townsfolk believe that the substantial and visible deposits of gravel and vegetation are responsible for that change and contributing to the increased frequency of flooding.

And he added that townsfolk and those with knowledge on the matter need to be listened to: “It is essential that SEPA address these concerns by listening to those with practical experience and if dredging the river, particularly in the town, will reduce the flood risk then they need to get on with it.

“I have written directly to the SEPA chief executive seeking an explanation and suggesting that they send an expert to let us all know what they plan to do with the river bed.”

We contacted SEPA but they did not respond before our deadline.