NE Scotland, Orkney & Shetland

Unfinished Elgin and Forres flood defences 'saved homes'

Elgin floods Image copyright Alastair Mackie
Image caption Flooding in Elgin earlier this week

Partially completed flood alleviation schemes in Elgin and Forres "saved hundreds of homes and businesses" from flooding, Moray Council has said.

Moray was one of the areas of Scotland hit by the remnants of Hurricane Bertha earlier this week.

The council said analysis suggested that flood damage as severe as that experienced in 1997, 2002 and 2009 was avoided.

It said this week's storm had affected a "very small number" of properties.

Flood alleviation schemes are being constructed in Elgin at a cost of £86m and in Forres at cost of £44m.

In Elgin, about 200 homes were evacuated as a precaution on Monday, but most people were able to return to their properties soon after.

Moray Council had water levels on the rivers Lossie and Findhorn analysed.

Council leader Allan Wright said there had been potential for severe flood damage.

He said: "The rain gauge at Torwinny on the upper reaches of the River Lossie recorded much more intense rainfall in a much shorter period of time than both November 2002 and September 2009 when Elgin suffered severe flooding and damage to property.

"In terms of peak water flow and water level in the River Lossie as it passes through Elgin, Monday's event was of a similar magnitude to September 2009 and yet not a single property within the compass of the flood scheme was affected, which is testament to the effectiveness of the work that has been carried out, even though the scheme is still only partially complete."

'Staggering figure'

He added: "I have the greatest sympathy for those households that did suffer flooding as a result of conditions on Monday but the flood schemes undoubtedly averted a full-scale catastrophe.

"Since 1997 successive floods in Moray have caused damage costing many tens of millions of pounds and that quite staggering figure would have risen even further this week without the partially-completed flood schemes in Elgin and Forres."

The Elgin and Forres defences are part of a series of flood alleviation schemes being constructed in the region.

The first of the schemes, at Lhanbryde, was completed about five years ago.

It was followed by the Burn of Mosset scheme at Forres and a project at Rothes.

The largest of the five schemes is under construction in Elgin.

Due to be completed by spring 2015, Moray Council said it was the biggest single flood alleviation scheme ever undertaken in Scotland.

The project in Forres still under construction is the Forres Pilmuir scheme.

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