Residents seek a pause in the process after concerns voiced
OPPOSITION to a comprehensive flood protection scheme in Langholm is growing after an online poll
attracted more than 90 names last weekend.
Two weeks ago Dumfries and Galloway Council’s flood protection team and RPS, the consultants commissioned to design the scheme, held a three-day consultation in the town.
They were offered a preferred option which included an overflow channel from the Wauchope Water across Buccleuch Park and into the River Esk.
About 200 people attended and there were a number of misgivings about the walls and
embankments which would be built up to two metres high, cutting off general access to the River Esk and Wauchope
A previous consultation was held last summer, during which people were asked to comment on a number of options which formed the basis of last month’s consultation.
Erika Luukas, a resident of Caroline Street, prompted a discussion on Facebook which led to a poll being set up to ask people whether they were in favour of the scheme which is estimated to cost £8m.
Ms Luukas attended Langholm, Ewes and Westerkirk community council’s meeting on Monday and asked them whether they would support the group’s call for a pause in the process so a public meeting could be held and a petition raised.
John Galloway, chairman, said the community council had to represent all members of the community, not only one section of it.
He said they wanted to wait for the report on the consultation before deciding what comment to make as a statutory consultee.
Ms Luukas said there had been a wide-ranging discussion and comments made over the weekend.
She said: “There are at least 90 people who would like a pause in the process because there are a number of issues with that process.
“What came up over the weekend was that there was no evidence of anyone’s opinions on lower-impact options being considered. The low-impact options have simply been dismissed.”
She said there was no suggestion that people wanted nothing to be done to protect properties from flooding.
“If the community council can’t accept our representation, we’ll have to deal with it ourselves and take it forward in a different way.”
Mr Galloway said: “What comes out of a poll on Facebook is not something we can take as a true representation.
“The correct forum to give feedback were the events held over the past two years.”
“I don’t think it would be prudent for us to do what you’re asking.”
Councillor Archie Dryburgh said the feedback from the community event would be put into a report which would go to the economy and resources committee and members would decide what to do next.
The public could still give feedback to the flood protection team before the report went to committee.
There would also be a planning application process to go through and people could comment on both the flood order and the planning application.
Councillor Ronnie Tait said the flood order would be made in March/April and in May would go to the economy and resources committee with the preferred
The committee would give its approval and the order would be published and reviewed in July/
Mr Galloway added; “There’s still a considerable length of time and stages to go before any
outcomes are decided.”
At the consultation event, a question was raised over whether it would be easier to get planning permission for developments on the flood plain if the defences were built.
A Dumfries and Galloway
Council spokesperson said: “In general, building on recognised flood plains is never a desirable or sensible option and will normally be the subject of an objection from the Scottish Environment
Protection Agency and/or the
council’s flood risk management team.
“A one in 200-year flood risk does not mean that only one flood will happen in 200 years.
“As has been seen over the last few weeks, such events can happen repeatedly when certain circumstances prevail.
“Flood defences are really
designed to limit the damage to existing properties from periods of excessive flooding, not to allow more properties within a known high-risk area.”