Comhairle reject £20million causeway plan

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A £2million project to reduce the risk of flooding in vulnerable areas of Benbecula and South Uist is expected to be taken forward.

The plan is to rebuild the dune on the south coast of Benbecula; construct an embankment to reduce likelihood of flooding at Lionacleit: and to strengthen Gualan Island spit to provide better protection for the South Ford Causeway.

This option was favoured over a £20million project which included the construction of a 250m bridge in the causeway - an option which is strongly favoured by the local community.

Iain Mackinnon, Director of Technical Services at the Comhairle presented a report on the flood prevention measures for the vulnerable areas with costings.

He said it was ‘nigh on impossible to eliminate risk of flooding but as much as possible to reduce the risk and manage them thereafter.’

He explained that following the devastating storm in January 2005, six coastal protection schemes were identified, with four now complete, a fifth in progress and the sixth being the South Ford Flood Prevention Scheme.

Funding was not available at that time for this particular project but since then much work, including a Hydronamics Study, has been carried out.

Mr Mackinnon pointed out that in order for a scheme to be eligible for financial assistance it had to had to undergo cost benefit analysis of flood risk reduction measures.

“It is Important to remember about the need for there to be a cost benefit of greater than one - less than one cannot get funding from Scottish Government.”

The option involving the bridge construction scores only 0.9 and is therefore not eligible for funding.

A deadline of next month is now looming for the Comhairle to express interest in obtaining funding for a scheme.

The Transportation and Infrastructure Committee recommended that the £2million scheme be adopted as the in-principle proposal for the South Ford Flood Risk Management Scheme and that the Director be authorised to appoint external consultants to take the project to the design stage.