Leith residents at flood risk as insurance companies refuse cover

Rubbish in Water of Leith basin
Rubbish in Water of Leith basin
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Residents of Leith are being urged to contact a community group over concerns that property owners are having difficulty insuring their homes.

Friends of the Water of Leith Basin (FOWL.b) raised the concerns on their Facebook page after being contacted by members whose insurance companies are removing flood liability from their policies.

The Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) classified the basin as a flood risk in 2016.

The group, made up of residents and business owners who organise regular clean-ups of the area, are getting increasingly frustrated at the litter and abandoned boats that they consider to be an “eyesore”.

Don Giles, co-chairman of FOWL.b, said: “The basins have been deteriorating over the last ten years.

“There is a lot of siltation in the basin which has reduced the depth to a few inches in places.

“Some residents who are part of our group are unprotected if the area floods and now we are story gathering to see what can be done.”

The Facebook post reads: “The state of the Water of Leith basins continues to make a mockery of efforts by people, businesses and the council to improve our environment. Aside from the eyesore of litter and badly neglected ships, siltation in the basin is causing risk and expense to residents along the water.”

According to FOWL.b, resident’s associations are reporting only being able to find two or three agencies willing to consider insuring their properties. The basins are privately owned by Water of Leith 2000 who, FOWL.b claim, are refusing to accept responsibility for the threat of flooding.

Don said: “We want Water of Leith 2000 to step up and accept responsibility to try and keep the river tidy and do something with the abandoned boats – if they’re not going to be used they are going to turn into rotting hulks.

“The rubbish needs to be cleared so it doesn’t build up and come into the basins.”

Don told the Evening News that the group have tried to contact the registered owner of the basins but had been unsuccessful. Water of Leith 2000 was approached for comment for this article but did not respond.

FOWL.b wrote on their page that while “Edinburgh council has powers under the Flood Risk Management (Scotland) Act 2009 to serve landowners notice to reduce the risk of flooding, it does not have the power to compel them to act” before urging residents and businesses who have had issues with getting insurance to reach out to them. They also suggest that their followers contact Water of Leith 2000 and their local councillors in the hope of instigating action.

FOWL.b are concerned about climate change and how future weather could affect the basins. Don said: “It’s becoming more of a significant factor.

“SEPA said in their report that the probability of flooding is once every 200 years but we have no idea when it could occur.”

rohese.devereux@jpress.co.uk