High hopes of no more high water

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Councillor Gordon Edgar is “very hopeful” that Scottish Borders Council’s £27 million Flood Prevention Scheme for Selkirk and the Valleys will be 80 per cent funded by the Scottish Government – but if it isn’t, the project will be dead in the water, he warned.

The council’s bid for over £20m to pay for flood defences from St Mary’s Loch to the Co-op NGT was submitted to Holyrood last week, with the Government’s decision due mid-February. If it’s a ‘yes’, the three-year scheme is likely to start in May.

Cllr Edgar was confident the bid would succeed. “If we meet the criteria, which our project does, the Scottish Government will pay 80 per cent,” he said.

But the council’s executive member for roads and infrastructure added cautiously: “We’re dependent on that grant coming in – the council hasn’t got that kind of money.

“In total, we’ll need an estimated £60 million for flood defenses in the Borders. There’s no way the council can afford that kind of money.”

Jedburgh and Hawick’s flood plans are yet to apply to the Scottish Government’s pot.

Mr Edgar hoped Holyrood sees the economic case.

“Selkirk has the largest industrial estate in the Borders,” he said. “If we can getit better protected, then businesses will feel safe to invest here in the future. So it’s good for Selkirk, and for the Borders.”

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