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Edinburgh Seeks to Plug Flood Funding Gap

posted 23 Jul 2009, 02:41 by myEdinburgh Admin
The City of Edinburgh Council remains fully committed to the completion of major flood prevention works, despite facing a funding shortfall of £22.7m.

The Braid Burn scheme will be completed in September 2010 and a number of options to progress the Water of Leith scheme are being explored while discussions are ongoing with the Scottish Government with a view to securing the necessary funding.

Transport Convener, Cllr Gordon Mackenzie, has written to John Swinney MSP highlighting the financial position and seeking reassurances as to the Government's commitment to the scheme.

He said: "The shortfall is due, primarily, to changes in the funding arrangements for flood prevention schemes and to changes to the scheme following a public enquiry. The Government's contribution under the previous funding mechanism did not take into account project risk and was based on estimated costs prepared some time ago for the Water of Leith scheme.

"Since the last acknowledged estimate of spring 2007, a number of developments, not least the extensive works to the Murrayfield playing fields, have required that the scheme's costs be re-evaluated."

In the event that a funding gap remains, at least in the short term, the Council's Transport committee will next week be asked to approve the phased construction of the scheme, based on the funds available.

If this option is adopted, phasing would be dependent on a number of criteria, including available funding, number and vulnerability of properties being protected and the degree of protection. It would be necessary to re-tender the project and work could not commence on site until autumn 2010.

This is seen as preferable to delaying the works until the entire funding package is secured since this would leave all properties along the river vulnerable while there are funds available to protect some of them.

In the mean time, vital advance works at Threipmuir and Harlaw reservoirs will be carried out, adding valuable flood water storage capacity and greatly reducing the risk of flooding downstream.

Cllr Mackenzie continued: "I am heartened that it will be possible to complete the Braid Burn scheme and to progress with elements of the Water of Leith scheme in the short term."

"Meanwhile, we will work with the Scottish Government towards plugging the funding gap and, ultimately, delivering a scheme that that will bring peace of mind to thousands of residents and businesses who have either been affected or are vulnerable to the threat of flooding."

Source: The City of Edinburgh Council