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Strathdee Welcomes Recommendation on Huntly Flood Protection Scheme

>> 23 March 2015

Huntly, Strathbogie & Howe of Alford SNP councillor Joanna Strathdee has welcomed the recommendation from the Scottish Government Reporter that Aberdeenshire Council’s plans for a Flood Protection Scheme (FPS) should progress without modification following a Public Hearing in the town in February.

Commenting, Councillor Strathdee said:

"I welcome the Reporter’s decision for the works to go ahead. Obviously there have been concerns but at the end of the day, the scheme will prevent future flooding of the meadows area in Huntly to the benefit of the wider community."

The hearing was an opportunity for the Directorate for Planning and Environmental Appeals (DPEA) to consider objections to the scheme. Following a consultation four objections were received to the scheme – two were resolved through negotiation but the others remained outstanding.

In accordance with legislative procedures, Aberdeenshire Council took a preliminary decision to support the project last year despite the objections, which officers consider to be outweighed by the benefits to the wider community.

It is designed to reduce future flood risk in the Meadows area of the town, badly affected by flooding in the past. Design work has been progressing on the £2.9 million project since councillors gave the go-ahead in April 2011.

Scottish Ministers notified the council that they would not call in the scheme for a Public Inquiry, referring it back to the Council to hold a hearing. By law this hearing had to take place before the Council could proceed, considering the objections and giving opportunity for representation.

Held on February 18, the hearing investigated:
  • The need for a scheme and the general principles of the scheme
  • The effects of the scheme on agricultural land
  • Scope for mitigation
  • Matters of access during and after construction
  • Specific issues
The Council has proceeded with the scheme under the Flood Risk Management (Scotland) Act 2009, as it has not been possible to secure the land by agreement.

Under section 79 of this Act, once a scheme is confirmed the Council has the power to enter onto land to carry out works.

Before this can happen the council’s Infrastructure Services Committee (ISC) will receive a report in May asking councillors to confirm progression of the scheme, following the Reporter’s recommendation.

Subsequent to this, landowners will be notified and the decision will be advertised, before a six-week period for appeals. The scheme becomes operational after this period.

Aberdeenshire Council’s Head of Roads and Landscape Services, Philip McKay, said:

“We are obviously pleased with the outcome of the Public Hearing, because the Reporter’s recommendation allows us to progress this scheme if the Infrastructure Services Committee gives the go ahead in May.

“It was clearly important that objections to the scheme were properly investigated and weighed up against the benefits to the wider community and the extensive work we have done to this point means we should be able to move towards delivery of the Flood Protection Scheme on the ground with minimal delay.”

The FPS has been designed to reduce the risk of flooding to residential, agricultural, community and business properties along the River Deveron, the Ittingston Burn and the Meadow Burn.

It comprises a number of individual projects, including creating storage for flood water to the west of the Meadows estate by constricting the flow in the Meadow Burn.

Existing defences on the River Deveron between the Bridge of Gibston and the Hill of Haugh would also be raised and strengthened.

Councillors previously agreed the Council should promote a formal Flood Protection Scheme for the town. The Flood Protection Scheme (formal order) was promoted under the terms of the Flood Risk Management (Scotland) Act 2009.

The promotion of a Formal Order for the Huntly Flood Protection Scheme under this Act is a first for Aberdeenshire, and was considered necessary to deliver a scheme to protect the town quickly. The Order would provide the council with powers to secure entry to the land required to build the scheme, which was granted planning consent in June 2012.

A licence for engineering works on and adjacent to the affected watercourses was issued by SEPA in May 2013.

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