Hawick is now another step closer to getting the £44m flood defences intended to keep the River Teviot at bay in years to come.
Scottish Borders Council is advertising a £35m contract for the construction of the long-awaited defences, and that move has been welcomed by Hawick Volunteer Flood Group chairman Stuart Marshall.
Mr Marshall, also a councillor for Hawick and Denholm, said: “I’m absolutely delighted that the Hawick flood protection scheme has now progressed to this stage.
“Many people in the town will share my delight that a Main Contractor for this long overdue scheme is finally being sought.
“No one in Hawick should underestimate the sheer scale of this £44m project, and once delivered in hopefully 30 months or so, it will, I’m sure, give peace of mind to hundreds of townsfolk.
“Our town has waited nearly 13 years for a scheme to get to this stage, and during that period, many families and businesses have suffered terribly because of flooding and I, for one, am extremely excited at the real prospect now of progressing this vital project for our community.”
The council is footing around £9m of the £44m bill, with the Scottish Government paying nearly £35m and Transport Scotland and Scottish Water chipping in £500,000 and £80,000 respectively.
It will need to buy land along the river in to allow the project to proceed, and in March it was agreed to give council officers delegated authority to start land purchase talks and to begin compulsory purchase proceedings if necessary.
The advert, on the Public Contracts Scotland website, reads: “The scheme will deliver flood protection against one-in-75-year flood events to 930 residential and commercial properties at risk along the River Teviot and Slitrig water through Hawick.
“The scheme will also deliver multiple benefits to the town of Hawick, maximising the cultural, heritage, educational, environmental, energy and health opportunities that a major civil engineering project can deliver, in partnership with the community and external organisations.”
The total length of the the flood defences will be 5.93km, with 5.6km of walls, including glazing and stone cladding, and 330m of embankments.
The defences, to have a lifespan of 100 years, will have an average height of approximately 1.6m above ground level, rising to a maximum of 2.55m near Hawick High School.
Included in the scheme will be the replacement of three footbridges and the creation of a 2.5m wide footpath and cycleway along the length of the defences.
Advance works have already started and are due for completion in June 2019, and the main construction phase will begin then and is expected to be finished by the end of December 2021.
A council spokesperson said: “In October 2005, flooding of the River Teviot caused extensive damage to the town, affecting thousands of people and hundreds of properties and caused millions of pounds of damage.
“As a result, the council started the Hawick flood protection scheme, being delivered to protect around 900 flood-affected properties once completed in 2022.
“It is one of the largest infrastructure projects seen in the Borders, with 6km of flood defences being created, 10 new floodgates and potentially three new footbridges.”