Storm Francis flooding victims are still unable to return to their West Lothian homes

It will be almost two years before adequate flood protection around homes in Broxburn is in place, it has been revealed, as it emerged victims of a previous flood had still not been able to return home.

By Stuart Sommerville
Wednesday, 22nd September 2021, 11:38 am

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Some of the residents flooded out last August during Storm Francis remain in temporary accommodation as council flood engineers finalise plans to control water flowing through the watercourse known as Liggat Syke.

Formal consultation on designs for new plans had originally been scheduled to go to the public this autumn but this slipped back to spring next year. And there were warnings that covid restrictions might add to further delays.

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The plan is to create a pond diverting water away from the Liggat Syke, on the site of the nearby former candle works in the town.

The timetable will see detailed designs ready for December next year with building work starting in July 2023 and a completion date of November 2023.

Homes in Nicol Road and Pyothall Court, Broxburn, were flooded on 27 August 2020 after a rainstorm. Firefighters had to use boats to remove residents from their flooded homes. Many cars in the area were up to their roofs in water.

Emergency services spent much of the night evacuating local residents from the waist-deep deluge which caused tens of thousands of pounds of damage.

Storm Francis brought heavy flooding to streets in Broxburn.

A video, taken by Aimee Miller as she and her young son were evacuated by a Scottish Fire and Rescue (SFRS) water rescue team, showed wheelie bins floating in the background, with abandoned cars left submerged in the water.

Later she tweeted: “Street flooded… all of us rescued by the amazing fire brigade with their boats! Hope everyone else is ok.”

The SFRS said it received further reports of “significant flooding” incidents in Linlithgow and Ratho.

Some Broxburn residents have not been able to return to their homes.

More than 20 homes in the area were flooded, both social housing and privately owned homes.

Councillor Diane Calder said: “Notwithstanding the past year which has pushed everything back, is there anything that we are going to do to monitor the Liggat Syke over the coming months?

Richard Harlow, a council flood risk engineer said “We actually monitor Liggat Syke constantly with a flow monitor which sounds an alarm.”

Councillor Calder wants waterway monitored to prevent future floods.

Mr Harlow added that the water was physically checked every two weeks and the watercourse cleared of any debris every month.

He added: “The event of almost a year ago was due to a rainstorm of huge intensity.”

Council Calder asked if residents were back in the properties affected. Mr Harlow said the majority would be able to move back into Pyothall Court within months as renovations are completed. Only three properties in Nicol Road were evacuated.

Mr Harlow said that the plan to create a pond on the candle works site would divert water away from the watercourse and store it. “We are almost stopping it, at source, from going downstream,” he added.

The site is owned by the council and scheduled for housing but the area where the pond will be constructed is one of the most contaminated parts of the site. It is cheaper to clear the land to build a pond than it would be for housing.

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