Objections to £41m Hawick flood scheme no surprise, say council chiefs

Scotland experienced major flooding during terrible weather two winters ago, when UK storms were officially titled for the first time. Naming storms is shown to raise awareness of impending extreme weather and encourage people to take action to protect themselves and their homes. Picture: Phil Wilkinson
Scotland experienced major flooding during terrible weather two winters ago, when UK storms were officially titled for the first time. Naming storms is shown to raise awareness of impending extreme weather and encourage people to take action to protect themselves and their homes. Picture: Phil Wilkinson

The fact that Hawick’s proposed flood protection scheme has sparked almost 50 objections came as no surprise, according to council executive member Gordon Edgar.

Last week’s Hawick News reported that 48 separate objections to the £41m project had been received by Scottish Borders Council.

Selkirkshire councillor Gordon Edgar by the Teviot in Hawick.

Selkirkshire councillor Gordon Edgar by the Teviot in Hawick.

The exact nature of the objections to the scheme, currently only at outline design stage, will be available for public inspection online at www.hawickfloodscheme.com and in person at Scottish Borders Council’s Hawick contact centre from today.

However, Selkirkshire councillor Gordon Edgar, the authority’s executive member for roads and infrastructure, said that, given the complexity and scale of the project, it came as no surprise that members of the public had taken exception to a number of elements within it.

He said: “The Hawick flood protection scheme is a complex project and, as a result, we expected a number of objections to be received.

“We would encourage members of the community to come to the public meeting and site tours to find out more information on the project.

“This is such an important project for Hawick, and the council is committed to carrying out this process in a proper but timely manner.”

A public meeting is being held on Thursday, August 31, at 7pm at Hawick Town Hall to enable the river defences project team to provide an update on progress thus far and host a question-and-answer session.

The project team will also hold site visits for the public on Tuesday and Wednesday, August 29 and 30, at 6.30pm each night.

The site walk on August 29 will provide a tour of the Lawson Bridge to Victoria Bridge stretch of the river, and the next day’s walk will tour the river from Mart Street Bridge to Mansfield Bridge.

These evenings are intended to allow the project team to clarify the proposed scheme to the public and to gain further insight into the views of Hawick folk about the project, intended to protect more than 900 properties against a one-in-75-year flood event.

The project team is continuing to consider the objections received during the 28-day objection period, which concluded on May 29.

Project manager Conor Price said: “The project team has always recognised that developing a flood protection scheme to protect the town of Hawick would be hugely complex and a major challenge.

“The development of the design since October 2010 has always recognised both the challenges and the opportunities.

“The design has continuously evolved over that time through an open, consultative framework with key stakeholders and the people of Hawick, and it is very important to note that the scheme’s design will continue to evolve on this basis.

“The proposed scheme is based only on an outline design, and the detailed design is yet to be undertaken.

“Since May 29, the project team has been considering the various themes presented through the 48 objections.

“We have also been considering the other communications presented through this period.

“We are now working to bring all of this together, so that the scheme that is presented to council for approval this autumn is the best combination of options that will see the flood risk to Hawick substantially reduced.

“The upcoming public meeting and site tours are being held to allow the project team to continue this discussion with the people of Hawick. Please come along and let us know what you think.”