River South Esk bursts its banks

Pictured: River South Esk at 1.30pm on Friday afternoon before the water level increased, causing the river to burst its banks.
Pictured: River South Esk at 1.30pm on Friday afternoon before the water level increased, causing the river to burst its banks.

IN THE same week it was revealed that the Brechin Flood Prevention Scheme could not go ahead unless Angus Council secured Scottish Government funding, people in River Street were contending with floods.

Heavy rain on Friday saw the River South Esk reach dangerously high levels by early afternoon, and by 6pm the river had burst its banks.

Residents took to the Brechin Advertiser’s Facebook to vent their frustration at the situation. Barbara Lindsay said what many were thinking when she posted: “Why did it take the council so long to get the sand bags and gates out?”

Bruce Forfar commented: “Were the council the only ones that never saw the weather warnings. At least 24 hours before hand I knew it was away to overflow.”

Tracey Spark posted: “It’s bizarre the week we read in the paper that nothing was getting done in River Street regarding flood prevention ... the river floods. No disrespect to anyone but the people that make the decisions have most likely never felt the true effect of a flood. Over the years I have seen what it can do to people. It’s time people stopped talking about and did something about it!”

Speaking on the issue of funding for the scheme and the flooding on Friday, Councillor Mairi Evans said: “I want to reiterate that we are completely committed to pursuing the plan for a full flood prevention scheme for Brechin. There is absolutely no question about this.

“We have been fighting for it and are continuing to fight for it because we know this is the only way to protect residents in the area from flooding events, that will in all likelihood be worse than those experienced on Friday night.

“The announcement that the council could not fund the flood prevention scheme is not new information because this has quite simply always been the case.

“The scheme is estimated to cost £15 million at a maximum. The Scottish Government created a fund of around £78 million that local authorities could bid into for flood prevention schemes.

“We were prevented from bidding when the fund first opened because there was an objection in place which significantly delayed the progress of the scheme. This objection has only this week been removed which means that now we can hopefully progress this further and bid for the monies that are left in the fund.

“The council could not and could never have afforded to fund the whole scheme without government funding and without significant investment from Scottish Water for their aspect of the work.

“In the event that we are unsuccessful in bidding for the fund we will have to provide another solution within what monies we have. It’s as simple as that.

“The events of Friday emphasised the need for a fully implemented flood prevention scheme and we will be doing everything possible within our power as councillors and as a local authority to make this happen.

“In the meantime Friday’s events also highlighted what we need to improve on in the interim. Response time was a major factor because the early warning system, which would normally provide at least a four hour warning before a flood occurs, was apparently not triggered by SEPA.

“This meant that roads and the emergency services were forced to react to the situation rather than being proactive as we would have wished. We will do our utmost to ensure that in future we have measures in place on the ground ready to go before the river overflows so that we are not caught in this situation again.”