Work begins on flood studies in at-risk Aberdeenshire communities

Progress is being made towards greater flood protection for Ellon, Insch, Inverurie and Port Elphinstone, with the appointment of a consultant to undertake flood studies in the communities.

Ellon, Inverurie and Port Elphinstone were prominent victims of flooding in January 2016 when both communities were flooded by the rivers Ythan and Don respectively in exceptional weather.

Under the Flood Risk Management (Scotland) Act 2009 there is a strategic framework for considering appropriate ways to manage flood risk.

Flood Risk Management Strategies have been developed to reduce the impact of flooding nationwide, coordinating the efforts of all organisations which tackle flooding and focussing work where the risk of flooding and the benefits of investment are greatest.

On May 12, 2016, Aberdeenshire Council’s Infrastructure Services Committee (ISC) approved the Local Flood Risk Management Plan for North East Local Plan District 2016 – 2022.

This presents a summary of the objectives and measures to manage flood risk in this area and details of how the measures will be implemented.

Within Aberdeenshire, Ellon, Inverurie and Port Elphinstone and Insch are the three studies to be taken forward in the 2016 – 2022 cycle.

The work will be done by Dougall Baillie Associates, working in partnership with JBA Consulting as their sub consultant.

As well as experience working together, they also bring experience of working within the catchments, developing and appraising Flood Protection Schemes for Aberdeenshire and other Scottish councils.

For Ellon the study has the potential to reduce flood risk to residential and non-residential properties; roads and a school, with potential damages avoided of up to £6.1million.

For Inverurie and Port Elphinstone the study has the potential to reduce flood risk to residential and non-residential properties and roads, with potential damages avoided of up to £6.8million.

In Insch the study has the potential to reduce flood risk to residential and non-residential properties; roads and a healthcare facility, with potential damages avoided of up to £6.3million.

The contractors will work in partnership with Aberdeenshire Council, the communities and other interested parties to develop measures to reduce flood risk.

This will allow the council to make an informed decision on the appropriate level of flood risk mitigation which could be put in place.

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

The work starts this month and will be completed by Spring 2019.

ISC Chairman, Peter Argyle, said: “Both Ellon and Inverurie were the victims of devastating flooding in early 2016. In Ellon, approximately 65 residential properties and three businesses were flooded, while in Inverurie and Port Elphinstone around 95 houses and approximately 14 businesses were flooded. Fortunately, Insch did not suffer on this occasion, but was still vulnerable.

“The progression of these studies is a significant step forward in the delivery of actions within the Local Flood Risk Management Plan and I’m sure will be welcomed by these communities.

“It is important that they are carried out thoroughly and although the timescales for potential physical measures to be put in place may seem lengthy, Aberdeenshire Council has to work in accordance with SEPA’s Flood Risk Management Strategies and this is a complex process.”

ISC Vice Chair, John Cox, said: “These flood studies are an important part of the process of moving towards developing a Flood Protection Scheme, seen recently in Huntly and Stonehaven.

“They will provide valuable information on the best way to reduce flood risk, 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 these communities and Aberdeenshire as a whole.”