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Monday, 29 October, 2001, 15:14 GMT
Flood prevention barriers open
Perthshire flood barrier
The flood prevention scheme cost 25m
Scotland's most expensive and most elaborate flood prevention scheme has been opened.

The 25m project comes into operation one year on from some of the worst flooding in Perthshire.

The much-needed defences along the River Tay have been four years in the making.

The barrier is made up of earth embankments and a stone-faced wall stretching more than 8km from the north to the south of Perth.

Perth floods
Perth suffered severe flooding in 1999
The scheme has not been without its controversy.

It involved the removal of trees and the partial blocking of outstanding views to the river.

About 80 gates will allow access to the Tay, but they can be closed to prevent flooding when the river rises.

The barrier was officially opened by the Deputy Minister for Environment and Rural Affairs, Rhona Brankin, at lunchtime on Monday.

Ms Brankin said the executive's contribution towards the scheme was the "largest single investment in flood prevention in Scotland".

"By working in partnership with Perth and Kinross Council and the Scottish Environment Protection Agency we are providing real reassurance and protection to those living with the threat of flooding," she said.

'Disastrous floods'

"I commend the council on its determination to reduce significantly the chances of a repeat of the disastrous floods of 1993."

Ms Brankin said flooding in general was likely to increase with climate change and it was essential for warning systems to be in place to allow people to protect their property.

She added: "The Scottish Executive is committed to continuing to seek to raise awareness and improve information on flood risk, enabling councils to better identify their flood prone areas.

"We will also continue to work with the Scottish Environment Protection Agency to improve flood warning."

Rhona Brankin
Rhona Brankin: "Real reassurance"
Perthshire residents hope the work will prevent severe flooding, the like of which was seen in January 1993 when the River Tay reoccupied much of its natural flood plain.

At its height, about 40,000 million gallons of water a day was passing through Perth, affecting 2,500 homes, and prompting a huge emergency operation in and around the town.

It involved 800 council workers, 500 firemen, 400 policemen and 250 army and navy personnel.

The Perth project's completion comes in the wake of a conference last week which heard that the UK's general flood control measures were "ill-prepared" for the future.

The conference was organised by the Centre for Advanced Built Environment Research (Caber), with Glasgow Caledonian University and Perth and Kinross Council.

Professor George Fleming, of the University of Strathclyde, told the conference that most current municipal flood mitigation work is no better than a temporary stopgap.

He believes plans in general are not taking into account the effects of climate change, nor of the impact in many towns and cities of building and living on the floodplain.

BBC Scotland's Louise Batchelor
"Snow melt and heavy rain combined to raise the level of the Tay"
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