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Portgordon flood scheme scrapped after business case fails

By Staff Reporter

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PLANS for a flood protection scheme at Lossiemouth's Seatown are being taken forward for development by Moray Council.

But a scheme for Portgordon, which has a history of flooding, is not being progressed after its business case failed to stack up.

The decision was agreed at a meeting of the authority's economic development and infrastructure services committee this morning.

Homes in lower Portgordon are no stranger to inundation, with Stewart Street and Lennox Place particularly at risk when waves overtop the revetment and seawater builds up behind a small sea wall.

Stewart Street in Portgordon is one area of the village which has proved vulnerable to flooding over the years.
Stewart Street in Portgordon is one area of the village which has proved vulnerable to flooding over the years.

A study showed 66 properties are at risk, but providing protection in the form of a higher wall, along with a rock embankment and stepped revetment, would cost between £18-26 million.

The committee heard: "None of the options to significantly reduce wave overtopping achieved unity, i.e. a Benefit Cost Ratio of 1 or greater.

"Based on what would be considered a poor business case, it is unlikely that grant funding from Scottish Government would be made available to construct this scheme."

A drainage solution was also looked at, but studies showed it would safeguard just two homes.

The report concluded: "Based on the limited level of protection provided by the drainage solution and the poor business case for a higher level of protection, it is recommended that a flood protection scheme for Portgordon is not progressed further."

Councillor Marc Macrae said he shared the shock and disappointment of Portgordon residents and questioned the cost, stating decisions should be made on "facts not guesswork".

The Fochabers/Lhanbryde member said: "A builder yesterday suggested he could do it for far less than that. In fact, I could probably go to college, do a few evening classes and build it myself.

"Is there anything we have on paper that suggested this astronomical cost because it is causing some concern to the people of Portgordon?"

The committee heard experienced officers made an objective assessment of costs based on current market value.

Council leader Graham Leadbitter (Elgin City South) said: "I think that we have to recognise that the team has looked in some depth at this to try and find options that might be viable, but unfortunately at the end of it, there isn't really any viable options."

Cllr Gordon Cowie (Buckie) pointed out that homes in Portgordon were known to flood, yet Seatown in Lossie was simply at risk.

Under national guidelines, communities are assessed using a uniform set of criteria and prioritised by the Scottish Government, who fund up to 80 per cent of the costs.

The Seatown scheme, which is estimated to cost £1.18 million, would protect 248 homes from tidal flooding with the construction of a raised bund between the estuary and homes.

Its Benefit to Cost Ratio is 1:35.

A report stated: "A public exhibition was held in February 2018, at which information on all of the proposed options was provided.

"Based on the feedback from this exhibition, and the environmental and economic considerations, an earth embankment is considered the preferred option."

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