Hundreds make voices heard over flooding

TERIES came out in droves this week to offer their views on the formation of a flood prevention scheme in the town.

More than 200 people turned out in the first 12 hours of a two-day public exhibition at Tower Mill, where local residents were invited to give opinion on a range of defence options, some of which will be implemented as part of a future flood prevention scheme. It is likely to cost between £15million and £90million and would be designed to protect the town at least against the type of flood ‘event’ anticipated once every 75 years.

It will follow similar projects in Galashiels and Selkirk, but local reaction to the Hawick scheme has proved far stronger than in those Borders towns. “The emotions among people here are rawer – they’ve experienced a flood more recently,” explained Conor Price, a council project manager.

“There’s been a stronger response in Hawick with more people through the door here than in Galashiels and Selkirk.”

Stuart Marshall, chair of the Hawick Flood Group, called the response of local people an “important first step” towards flood defences being installed in the town.

He said: “The public exhibition is a real shot in the arm for our town and while this is only the beginning of a very long journey, people in the town can take heart that at last important steps are being taken to protect the area.”

Mr Marshall continued: “I would settle for any type of flood prevention scheme, because any one of them are better than what the town has at the moment.”

Mr Marshall thanked the Hawick News for promoting the flood prevention campaign and stressed that the flood group will continue to work hard to advance plans for implementation of a scheme in the town. And his council counterpart Mr Price placed on record his thanks for the recent work of the flood group.

“Hawick Flood Group is one of the most active in Scotland,” said Mr Price.

“They’re good at what they do and people need them. I can’t thank them enough for their support.”

Steven Vint, design manager at development consultants Halcrow, said the next step would be for the flood prevention project team to make recommendations to the council in October. “We have a list of options that we presented to the public, and the next stage is to present to the council what is considered the best range of options,” said Mr Vint.

“Short term is the minor works programme, including the work in kerbs in Mansfield Road and Duke Street. Medium term is the flood protection scheme that the project team are advancing, and the long-term is about reduction, and speaking to land managers about how they can reduce the flow of water.”

Galashiels has received funding of £3.5million for its flood prevention scheme, while Selkirk is seeking approval for works totalling £25m. Work in Hawick was initially estimated to cost £50m-60m, but revised plans could cost as much as £90m.