Holyrood 'must back Highlands' war on flooding', MSP urges following Dingwall incidents
FLOOD woes in Dingwall will be raised in the Scottish Parliament next month after a regional MSP called for a “war on flooding” to be backed by Holyrood.
Highland Labour MSP David Stewart has tabled a parliamentary question saying he could not forget the words of one Dingwall resident, who told a recent public meeting that “if my house floods again it will break me”.
His call comes after constituency MSP Kate Forbes, who has an office in the town, triggered a nationwide fund in her capacity as minister for public finance – in order to help support local authorities deal
with the aftermath of Scotland’s recent spate of flash floods.
But Highland Council will not be applying for funding to help deal with its own clean-up operations, as it is ineligible for support from the so-called Bellwin Scheme because clean-up costs are not expected to exceed the minimum £1.2 million threshold.
And Mr Stewart has now called on the Scottish Government to get involved by supporting the local authority with the resources that it needs to deliver improved drainage and flood alleviation.
“The words of one householder in Dingwall who reportedly told a public meeting if my house floods again it will break me are still ringing in my ears,” he said.
“I have already tabled a parliamentary question to the Scottish Government asking what its plans are to protect our homes and businesses in our endangered communities.
“This war on flooding really needs to be backed with steady resources for Highland Council, which is feeling the financial strain of this mammoth task.
“I would back any future funding application the council submits to the SNP government for flood-alleviation work. This desperately needs cross-party consensus, so I would urge my fellow MSPs to do the same.”
Conservative group leader in the local authority, Councillor Andrew Jarvie, accused the government of a pattern of under-funding Highland infrastructure.
“This is not the first time we have seen heavy rain like this. All the issues are known, we have all seen and been inconvenienced by them. Yet every time nothing seems to change,” he said.
“Retrofitting modern drainage to old roads is horrendously complex and expensive, it also requires a commitment to keep drains clear. Yet despite annual under-spends of nearly half-a-billion pounds, the Scottish Government keeps the purse shut tight to most requests for help.
“People in the west go through the upheaval of a 140-mile detour when the Stromeferry bypass closes, despite pleas from the council for cash to help, the Scottish Government says ‘no.’
“When the council begs for help with the £160 million bill to stop our roads turning to dust, the Scottish Government has the audacity to celebrate a measly £500,000 timber transport fund in Highland.
“Even the Scottish Government’s own trunk
roads have been under-
A Scottish Government spokesman said: “Highland Council will be best placed to judge the magnitude of the flooding in the Highlands but in order to qualify for any additional funding the council’s expenditure in dealing with the flooding would have to exceed their Bellwin Scheme threshold for 2019-20 which is £1,162,650.
“This is because all local authorities are expected to budget 0.2 per cent of the overall annual revenue budget to cover the cost of unexpected incidents before any additional government support can be provided.
“As local authorities are expected to notify the Scottish Government of any emergency incidents within one week of the incident so any July incidents would have had to have been notified by August 7.”