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Last Updated: Wednesday, 1 November 2006, 17:07 GMT
No emergency grants after floods
Flooding in Dingwall
Dingwall was one of the worst affected areas
Emergency funds will not be released at this stage to cover the cost of damage caused by flooding in the Highlands.

Deputy Environment Minister Rhona Brankin told parliament there were no imminent plans to activate the Bellwin Scheme, which awards special grants.

However, she added the position could be re-considered.

Highland Council could be forced to rethink its budget for next year as it assesses the damage caused by last week's floods.

Ms Brankin visited Dingwall - one of the worst affected communities - and surrounding areas in the aftermath of the floods.

Unfortunately, climate change means that in future years that severe weather incidents such as these are likely to occur more often
Rhona Brankin
Deputy Environment Minister

She told parliament that the local authority has been asked to keep ministers informed of its assessment of the damage.

The deputy minister opened her statement recognising the loss of the crew of the Fife fishing boat, Meridian, which went missing during Thursday's storms.

She later said: "Unfortunately, climate change means that in future years that severe weather incidents such as these are likely to occur more often."

Meanwhile, Highland Council had been considering a revenue budget of 509m, which would increase council tax bills by 2.5%.

However, officials planning the new budget warned that it may not be enough to cover the costs of an emergency situation in the region.

Before Ms Brankin's statement to parliament council convener Alison Magee said they would make a "robust" case to the Scottish Executive for financial aid.

Floods in Dingwall
Homes, cars and roads were caught up in the floods

Flooding had an impact on many areas across the Highlands.

Dingwall was one of the worst affected communities and floods and landslides closed extensive sections of the A9.

Ms Magee said the executive was open to discussions on repairing the damage caused.

She said: "We have always had a good level of balances in the council and that enabled us to address the hurricane in January 2005 which cost, I think, nearly 4m.

"What we need to do as a local authority is to, as rapidly and as thoroughly as we can, come up with robust data which actually analyses the cost of what all this is going to be and present that to the executive.

"The fact that discussions will be facilitated with the minister of finance and minister for environment is a good early sign."

Meanwhile, Scottish Water has started work on a trunk main for Dingwall and the Black Isle to replace the one swept away in a landslide last Thursday.


SEE ALSO
Council ponders tax rise of 2.5%
19 Oct 06 |  Highlands and Islands
Power restored after storm chaos
29 Oct 06 |  North East/N Isles
Minister visits storm-hit north
29 Oct 06 |  Highlands and Islands
Power returns to storm-hit homes
27 Oct 06 |  Highlands and Islands
Travel warning as storms strike
26 Oct 06 |  Highlands and Islands
Rain turns north into water world
26 Oct 06 |  Highlands and Islands

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