ENVIRONMENT MINISTER’S VISIT A “MASSIVE MISSED OPPORTUNITY” FOR WHITESANDS FLOOD PREVENTION SCHEME
The failure of the Scottish Environment Minister to make any announcement over future funding for flood prevention schemes in Scotland, including the Whitesands, during a visit to Dumfries has been described by the Chair of Dumfries and Galloway Council’s Economy, Environment and Infrastructure committee as a “massive missed opportunity”.
Councillor Colin Smyth believes the visit by Paul Wheelhouse MSP to the town to announce the setting up of a National Resilience Centre was an ideal opportunity for the Scottish Government to clarify whether funding will be available next year for new flood prevention schemes in Scotland. The local Councillor expressed his anger that the Council had pledged funding but so far no commitment had been given by the Government despite repeated requests from the council for answers.
In March the Scottish Government announced funding for a range of flood prevention schemes across Scotland from a £40 million fund that had been set aside- Selkirk (£31.7m contribution) and Brechin (£6.3m contribution). However, so far the Scottish Government haven’t confirmed whether the fund will be repeated again next year, raising fears that any current council investment in drawing up detailed plans for the Whitesands could be wasted.
Councillor Colin Smyth said, “It is disappointing that the Environment Minister was in Dumfries to talk about resilience and tackling flooding but had nothing to say about the biggest flooding problem facing the town on the Whitesands. The council has pledged to invest £3 million in the scheme and are asking the Scottish Government to come up with the rest. This is what they have done in other parts of Scotland and frankly what we are asking for is a fraction of the amount the Government have announced in the past for other areas. Dumfries is the largest town in Scotland with a major flooding problem that still doesn’t have a flood prevention scheme in place, yet the Scottish Government are continuing to ignore us.”
“The council are currently spending hundreds of thousands of pounds of taxpayers money on drawing up detailed plans for the Whitesands to meet the criteria set by the Scottish Government for their fund. But the problem we have is that the Scottish Government won’t even tell us if we will have a £40 m next year to bid into. We have asked the Minister for an answer but so far he has been silent. He had the ideal opportunity to come clean during his visit and his failure to do so was a massive missed opportunity. It makes you wonder whether he is trying to hide bad news”