£2m Musselburgh flood defence system earmarked for 2019

The River Esk at a higher level than usual in Musselburgh in January this year. Picture: Scott Louden

The River Esk at a higher level than usual in Musselburgh in January this year. Picture: Scott Louden

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A £2 MILLION flood defence system is set to be built along the River Esk in Musselburgh within the next few years, East Lothian Council has revealed.

If approved, the latest plans would reduce the town’s flood risk from the river and tidal surges, by building walls and earth embankments along the route.

Council officers have said the proposals would protect East Lothian from a one in 200-year flood event. A local flood risk management plan has been discussed at a council cabinet meeting, which also heard about separate flood protection schemes (FPS) covering other parts of East Lothian, including Haddington.

John Williamson, a local councillor for Musselburgh, said: “I am pleased things are under way because we have had a few near misses with floods in the past.

“Residents will be so pleased, and I know a lot of homeowners living by the water have had trouble getting property insurance but hopefully this will help.”

The new structures, which will cost the council an estimated £1.77m if approved, will start being built in 2019.

But Jason Rose, a Scottish Greens campaigner for Musselburgh, has called for more detailed information regarding the structures before things go any further.

He said: “Most people in Musselburgh will know that the River Esk bursts its banks from time to time, and it’s clear that given our proximity to the coast – and the effects of climate change – we can expect what have been rare events to become much more frequent and intense.

“It’s heartening to hear the council making plans but it’s important that local people get involved in the design of any flood scheme at an early stage.

“I’ve asked officials to share their options report so we can see what has informed their judgement to date.”

He added: “Clearly if the council is talking about putting aside almost £2m with an expectation that the Scottish Government will provide many times more in the way of funding, this is going to be a big and costly scheme. Vague descriptions of embankments and walls will cause some concern as, while tackling flooding is vital, we must make sure we do not harm the beauty and amenity that is the River Esk that runs through the heart of our town.”

A spokeswoman for East Lothian Council said plans were still at an “early stage”.

courtney.cameron@jpress.co.uk