Edinburgh misses out of flooding cash because of unfair funding system, claims MSP

Edinburgh is losing out on cash help to combat the threat of flooding because of an unfair funding system, Lothian Tory MSP Miles Briggs has claimed.

Thursday, 2nd December 2021, 4:45 pm

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In the wake of flash floods which hit homes and businesses in the Capital in the summer, turning roads into rivers and leaving a trail of destruction, he is calling for a review spending on flood prevention.

He said the Scottish Government’s current funding mechanism operated on the basis of river flooding, which failed to take account of sewage pipes being overwhelmed after heavy rain, which had been the main problem in Edinburgh.

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Flooding in July turned roads into rivers

Mr Briggs said: “Residents in areas that I represent in Stockbridge, Comely Bank, Ravelston and Craigleith have been hit by significant flooding in recent years, because of urban waste water issues.

"We need a review of that funding mechanism to make sure that Edinburgh is given a fair funding deal to carry out mitigation projects to prevent future flooding.”

He said the government provided £42 million a year for flood mitigation, with 80 per cent of it allocated by Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) and 20 per cent by local authorities.

In July, it was said nearly half of Edinburgh’s average July rainfall had fallen in under an hour and the drains could not cope.

Inverleith Tory councillor Max Mitchell said it had been upsetting to see and hear about the damage and distress caused to homes and businesses.

He said: “It is vital to upgrade the drainage and sewer systems as residents now become incredibly anxious when rain is forecast.

"The council wrote to the Scottish Government about additional funding earlier this year as the current funding mechanism and settlement is simply not sufficient. I do not believe a response has been received yet, but I am keen for the council to work in better collaboration with the government and its agencies to deliver better protection for residents against future events.”

When Mr Briggs raised the issue in the Scottish Parliament, Màiri McAllan, Minister for Environment, Biodiversity and Land Reform, told him the government was committed to providing an extra £150 million over the next five years for flood risk management on top of the annual amounts.

And she said the flood risk management strategies that SEPA co-ordinated on behalf of all bodies responsible for flooding considered all the matters he mentioned.

"They consider whether an area is urban and they consider the rurality of an area. They also consider sources of flooding risk, whether those come from a river, the sea or surface water.

"That is embedded in the work that SEPA does, and the government is committed to funding the priority projects that SEPA puts forward in the flood risk management strategies, so long as they are viable.”

Mr Briggs, said: “The flash floods in July showed Edinburgh’s sewage system is not cut out to deal with the volume of water from an extremely heavy downpour.

“Weather forecasts show we are going to see more storms of this magnitude over the coming decades and Edinburgh’s sewers must be adapted to cope.

“I have written to the Minister for Environment, Biodiversity & Land Reform to highlight flooding concerns in Edinburgh and the Lothians and ask what actions will be taken to prevent future potential flooding in the region.”

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