South Scotland

Public inquiry proposed over Whitesands flood scheme

Devorgilla Brig Image copyright Dumfries and Galloway Council
Image caption The new administration wants a public inquiry into the flood protection scheme

Dumfries and Galloway Council is to seek a public inquiry into its £25m Whitesands flood protection scheme.

The new Labour-SNP administration is to ask the Scottish government to stage a hearing into the proposals.

Last year, the council agreed to take the scheme on the banks of the River Nith in Dumfries forward and it looked set to progress to construction.

However, the new administration said it felt an inquiry was now the best way for the public to express its views.

Leader Elaine Murray said: "The Labour group of councillors continues to consider the proposed scheme to be the correct one for Dumfries to protect properties from flooding and also to encourage the regeneration of the Whitesands area and Dumfries town centre.

"We consistently maintained this position throughout the council election period and nothing has changed.

"However, we are content to ask the Scottish government to hold a public inquiry, which the government would fund, to give the public another opportunity to express their views through a mechanism that will be entirely independent of the council."

'Legal standing'

Depute leader Rob Davidson said the SNP had committed to revisit the scheme in its manifesto.

"We believe that the best way of doing this is through an independent public inquiry, to which the public will be encouraged to give evidence, and the outcome of which would have legal standing," he said.

"Rather than rely on the flood scheme promotion process to decide whether or not such a public inquiry might happen, we have agreed with our administration partners that we should make sure that it does by asking the Scottish government to hold one.

"We would then implement the findings of that inquiry."

He said they believed the Whitesands should have a flood protection scheme but it had to be the right one for the town.

"A public inquiry would be the best way to ensure we end up with the right scheme," he said.

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