FEARS of fresh delays to vital flood protection measures were sparked today after the Scottish Government turned down a request for extra cash.
Council chiefs have a £6 million funding gap for phase two of the Water of Leith flood defence scheme, between Roseburn and Murrayfield.
But repeated appeals to the government have failed to secure any more money – despite the relevant fund still having £19m of unspent cash.
The Water of Leith plans were drawn up after damaging floods in 2000. But a change in the system of financing such projects forced them to be re-tendered as separate schemes, leading to cost rises and delays.
Phase one has now been completed and the council has already trimmed the cost of phase two, which will protect 478 homes and 14 commercial properties, from £35m to £25m.
Environment convener Lesley Hinds said she did not believe significant further savings could be achieved in the proposals. She said: “We’re talking about measures to protect people’s houses and businesses.
“We need to find the money for it. These people have been waiting a long time. They are obviously concerned every time there is heavy rain and they are also worried about insurance.”
Walter Spence, 81, a member of Murrayfield community council, said people were getting frustrated at the repeated delays and funding problems.
He said: “They were talking about a brick wall that was going to be put right along the bank. But if they don’t get the money, what’s going to happen with that?”
He said the house where he now lives in Baird Drive had been flooded in 2000. “I wouldn’t want it to happen again. It is a bit worrying when they are talking about not having the finance. It’s a big concern in the area. They just need to get on and do it.”
Lothian Labour MSP Sarah Boyack, who lobbied for extra funding, said the refusal was “totally unfair”.
She said: “The reason Edinburgh has not got funding is because SNP ministers changed the rules.
“But it makes no sense that the Water of Leith floodworks have been denied support while other council projects in other parts of Scotland have been given funding and there is still £19m unspent.
“Everyone is concerned about what happens next. If the Scottish Government is not going to put the money the question is whether it gets delayed or where the money is coming from.”
A government spokesman said the Water of Leith scheme did not meet the funding criteria as it was not a new scheme and had already received more than £32 million.
He added: “Scottish Government and Cosla officials will, in due course, discuss the process for the allocation of the balance of £19m in funding that remains unallocated.”