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News | 29th December 2020

Better early warning system to be devised

Newcastleton villagers are urged to protect their own houses


A BETTER early warning system is needed in Newcastleton after the catastrophic flooding last February.

About 100 homes were flooded by the Liddel Water during Storm Dennis on the evening of the 15th.

Part of the problem was that the flood was caused by both rainfall and snowmelt, creating unprecedented levels of water.

The Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) measures do not capture snowmelt.

Newcastleton Community Council says it is also considering how the community can undertake gravel extraction itself and use the spoils to support other community projects and path networks and how this might be funded.

The council understands that many residents are frustrated about the lack of progress and follow-up after Storm Dennis and the council and resilience group agree but actions are slowly beginning to be taken.

The council has several other priorities: make the riverside as safe as possible, given the erosion issues and exposed cables;

support the resilience group and helping them secure the training and support they need;

create a community flood defence group able to liaise with Scottish Borders and Dumfries and Galloway councils, which manage the SEPA relationship for the Liddel;

encourage all residents to subscribe to the SEPA flood alert service and buy flood defences for their properties to better protect themselves;

work with the public sector agencies to bring forward the planned flood defence programme as soon as possible.

The community council is again asking for volunteers to help create a community flood group to support its work in taking solutions forward.

A spokesperson said: “The community has a very strong chance of pushing forward the flood development proposals, given the overwhelming level of support these got after the consultation and study in 2019.

“We need support to keep this momentum going so please consider giving up some time to help us achieve this.”

With regard to erosion on the riverside, the council has met the Community Trust, Scottish Borders Council engineers and ScottishPower Energy Networks (SPEN).

The spokesperson added: “SPEN has surveyed the banking and will relocate the exposed power supply cable and some of the poles.

“The trust has signed the wayleaves granting permission to start work.

“The community council and trust have agreed to adopt council officers’ recommendation and the fence, which was washed away during the flood, will be moved forward significantly when it is reinstated.

“The fence line will be placed near the path to enable a safe space around the telegraph pole which will, in time, be relocated because the line supports are unstable on the riverside.

“This means much of the grass verge below Whithaugh Bridge will be fenced off, limiting access to the riverside.

“A new fence will be put up as soon as funds allow.”

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