Anger over refusal to remove gravel bank

Pictured are gabions being placed in the South Esk, at the end of August 1997. It shows the gravel bank as it was then. The gravel bank had previoulsy been 1969 by the River Street Residents Association

Pictured are gabions being placed in the South Esk, at the end of August 1997. It shows the gravel bank as it was then. The gravel bank had previoulsy been 1969 by the River Street Residents Association

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Around 70 residents and local caravan owners discussed Brechin’s flood alleviation and gravel bank schemes at a public meeting held at the Bridgend Bar last week.

The meeting, organised by local resident and former chairman of the Brechin and District Community Council Douglas Murray, saw residents discuss Angus Council’s decision to withdraw plans to remove the gravel bank.

Mr Murray claims that all residents at the meeting expressed their disbelief about the council refusing to appeal SEPA and SNH’s objections to the scheme.

“A number of locals, with long memories, stated that the residents in years gone by had to take matters into their own hands and removed the accumulated gravel, and the Dam Dyke or Weir, to reduce the incidences of flooding - and it worked with greater intervals between problems, and to a substantially lower level of flooding,” said Mr Murray.

“In a report commissioned by Angus Council in 2009, consultants stated that any work on the Flood Scheme, would require further investigations to preserve mussels and that no workmen would be allowed within the river.

“All work would have to be carried out from the riverbank. Quite a change from the photo of the tracked machine in the river, for work being undertaken by the council.”

With a motion to appeal the decision by councillor Bob Myles being rejected, Mr Murray explained his disbelief in actions taken by Angus Council’s infrastructure services committee last week: “With the council report to committee stating that there was no allowance in the costs for such an appeal, estimated at a few thousand, this seems ridiculous when set against the £2 million that has already been spent on fees so far.”

And it was not just the council’s decision that caused some confusion.

“On the basis of the arguments, SEPA would presumably no longer allow any landowner or individual, the right to walk in the River South Esk for fear of treading on mussels, and thus incurring a fine of £10,000, per mussel,” continued Mr Murray.

“They would no longer be able to carry out any work as there would be no overriding public interest.

“The scenario has been suggested that such debris could damage the ancient bridge, as the last major flood of 2002 when large straw bales were buffeted against the parapets.

“Their actions in Brechin totally ignore the local community, with mussels taking priority, and their responsibilities under the Flooding Act, wholly ignored.

“They do have responsibility for the Flood Warning System for Scotland, but that seems to be as far as their commitment extends in their responsibility to communities.”

During the meeting it was agreed that simple measures of the gravel removal, a slightly heightened wall along River Street, a wall or a bank behind the older housing next to the Leisure Centre, should be necessary.

It was also highlighted that work would be required from Scottish Water on their drainage systems.