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Last Updated: Sunday, 21 March, 2004, 09:28 GMT
'Unworkable' flood plan attacked
Elgin flooding in 2002
Elgin was hit by flooding in 2002
A 95m effort to barricade an historic town from flooding has been condemned as "too costly and unworkable" by an environmental charity.

A report for WWF said Moray Council's plans for Elgin were based on out-dated ideas which could have serious consequences for the local economy.

It also predicted that it could take 10 years to fund the project.

The council dismissed the report as "a bungled effort based on inaccurate figures and selective quotes".

More than 1,200 people were evacuated when the last major flood struck Elgin, causing damage which cost 3.5m to repair.

Serious flooding

Some 650 homes and 180 commercial properties were flooded in November 2002.

The town was also hit by serious flooding in July 1997 and April 2000.

However, Moray Council faced accusations of "environmental vandalism" when it unveiled its 95m scheme to tackle the problem.

WWF has now added its voice to the criticism.

Moray Council has chosen to follow an outdated approach to flood alleviation that really is out of step with the Scottish Executive's current thinking
Mike Donaghy
It has published a report written by Professor David Crichton, an insurance expert and adviser on climate change.

He said planners had continued to allow properties to be built in flood hazard areas despite "irrefutable evidence" of the dangers.

The plans to address the problem involve the widening of the River Lossie and the construction of a series of embankments.

Prof Crichton said this would leave homes and businesses at the mercy of the weather - and the insurance companies who are already refusing to cover them.

WWF said the plans were based on "old-fashioned thinking" which would simply push the water further down the river, threatening other towns and farmland.

Damage from flooding has cost millions of pounds
The organisation's freshwater policy officer, Mike Donaghy, estimated that it could take up to a decade to fund the project.

"In the meantime the local economy, in terms of businesses and indeed social cost, could suffer irreversibly," he said.

Mr Donaghy said other local authorities were dealing with greater flooding problems using "inexpensive, sustainable and effective" ideas which addressed the causes of flooding.

"Moray Council has chosen instead to follow an outdated approach to flood alleviation that really is out of step with the Scottish Executive's current thinking," he said.

"They risk being the first council in Scotland to have their flood defence funding bid rejected unless they change their plans and work with the river system, instead of against it."

Flooding risk 'set to increase'
06 Feb 04  |  Scotland
Climate fears after hottest year
08 Jan 04  |  Scotland
Questions asked over flood defences
17 Nov 02  |  Scotland
In pictures: Elgin floods
16 Nov 02  |  Scotland


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