Contract awarded to carry out Ballater flood study

Progress has been made towards greater flood protection for the Royal Deeside town of Ballater, with the appointment of a firm to undertake a flood study of the community.

One of the most prominent victims of Storm Frank at the start of last year, Ballater was severely affected when the River Dee burst its banks.

Aberdeenshire Council agreed to prioritise a Flood Protection Study for the community, which had been due to be carried out between 2022-2027.

Of 12 Aberdeenshire communities assessed as requiring flood protection studies in 2015, Ballater had been prioritised as fifth but following a decision by the council’s Infrastructure Services Committee (ISC) to bring forward the Ballater flood study, RPS Consulting Services have been appointed to complete a study by summer 2018.

The firm has undertaken flood studies on a number of catchments which have similar hydrological characteristics and issues to the Dee catchment across Scotland and Ireland.

Within Ballater there are approximately 200 residential and 40 non-residential properties at risk of flooding.

RPS will work in partnership with Aberdeenshire Council, other stakeholders and the community to develop measures to reduce the flood risk.

This will allow Aberdeenshire Council to make an informed decision on the appropriate level of flood risk mitigation that could be put in place to reduce flood risk.

The study will include topographical surveys, hydrological and morphological studies of the River Dee, River Gairn and River Muick. RPS will develop a hydrological model to appraise sustainable options for the mitigation of the flooding of properties within Ballater.

If considered feasible, the output from the study, such as a preferred Flood Protection Scheme, will then be considered in the national prioritisation process for Scottish Government funding, for construction as an action in the 2022 – 2027 Local Flood Risk Management Plan.

Chairman of Aberdeenshire Council’s Infrastructure Services Committee and local councillor, Peter Argyle, said: “There is no doubt Ballater was one of the Scottish communities most affected by Storm Frank, which it has to be said was an exceptional weather event.

“While the Local Flood Risk Management Plan for the North East Region did not identify Ballater as the most at risk community, it is hard to ignore the consequences of what happened during Storm Frank and it was right to prioritise the town, given it is still recovering from flooding today.

“I’m sure the local community will welcome this significant step towards putting physical measures in place which will help prevent a repeat of the terrible flooding at the start of last year.”

ISC vice chair, John Cox, said: “This study is an important part of the process of moving towards developing a Flood Protection Scheme for a town, as we see happening in places like Huntly and Stonehaven.

“It will provide valuable information on the best way to reduce flood risk in the town while making the most of the limited funding available for such schemes, allowing the council to make informed decisions which are in the best interests of Ballater and the wider Aberdeenshire community.”