Hawick’s £44m flood prevention scheme has taken another step forward after councillors granted it final approval yesterday.
The works, which could protect around 900 homes and businesses from a one in 75 year flood event, were discussed at a full council meeting and unanimously backed by councillors.
This means that the project team can now continue with the scheme’s detailed design, advanced works and appointing of a main contractor for the works, with an aim to see the project completed by 2022.
Hawick and Denholm councillor Stuart Marshall, who is also chairman of the Hawick Volunteer Flood Group, said it was a “major milestone” for the town.
“It’s an early Christmas present for hundreds of townsfolk who are affected by flooding in Hawick,” he said. “The team delivered an award winning scheme for Selkirk and I am sure they will do the same for Hawick.”
Councillor Davie Paterson, alongside the town’s other three councillors present on Thursday, also expressed his complete support for the project, but warned: “This is one of the biggest schemes that Hawick has ever had. There will be disruption, let us not be under any illusion about that.”
However, the project team assures it will draw on local knowledge as it moves forward.
Its report to councillors said: “As a result of the consultation process the project team have committed to creating a community traffic management working group for the development of the plans, for the advanced works and the main construction period to enable public and business input into agreeing the best balance for the works and to keep the town functioning during these periods.”
There are 33 active objections to the scheme, citing concerns over its visual impact, the project’s failure to fully consider other options; and the detrimental effect on business and tourism, amongst others.
But with none of the objections coming from people within the affected areas, there has been no need to refer the scheme to Scottish ministers.
Earlier this year the estimated cost of a flood protection scheme for Hawick rose from £3.5m to more than £44m.
However, additional funding was brought in from outside agencies so the extra cost to the local authority is £710,000, taking the council’s contribution to just short of £9m.
A six-week appeals period will commence next month and should all go to plan moving forward, planning permission could be sought by April.
Fellow councillor Neil Richards added: “It will provide security for those at risk. The project team has done a superb job which bodes well for its delivery on time and on budget.”
Meanwhile Watson McAteer paid tribute to the officers involved, adding: “This is a huge investment in the town. We have been updated and informed at every stage and I must congratulate you on that.”