Today (Thursday 31 August 2023) marked the official opening of Caol and Lochyside Flood Prevention Scheme in Fort William, Lochaber. The Highland Council’s Economy and Infrastructure Chair, Councillor Ken Gowans, opened the Flood Prevention Scheme with pupils from local Primary Schools and Lochaber High School, alongside community representatives, stakeholders and invited guests.
Caol and Lochyside ranked high on the list of national flooding priorities as published in 2016 local flood risk management plan. Due to inundation from a tidal surge in Loch Linnhe driven by westerly storms causing major problems when coinciding with high spring tides. The primary risk for Lochyside residents was inundation by high river levels in the River Lochy, fed by snow melt or high rainfall in the vast inland catchment area.
Protecting Caol and Lochyside became a reality with publication of the plan and the successful bid for funding to the Scottish Government Flood Scheme Fund.
In 2015, The Highland Council employed JBA Consulting to prepare the flood risk assessments, preliminary designs and documents for the publication of the scheme and the detailed design was completed by the Highland Council’s in-house design team based in Golspie and design consultant Stantec. The principal contractor, RJ McLeod was appointed in February 2021.
The £11M major flood protection scheme will provide protection to around 300 homes on the shores of Loch Linnhe. The works, carried out, include a new 1.2km flood embankment along the shores of Loch Linnhe from the Caledonian Canal embankment to the Caol Spit and an 800m flood wall constructed up the side of the River Lochy, adjacent to the road and finishing at Soldier’s Bridge.
Economy and Infrastructure Chair, Cllr Ken Gowans said: “I was honoured to officially open the Caol and Lochyside Flood Prevention Scheme and to mark this momentous occasion alongside our partners and stakeholders, fellow Members and the community that played a pivotal role in the success of the project.
“I’d like to take the opportunity to commend the work of our main contractor, RJ MacLeod, all our Council Officers and the extended team of specialist contractors involved in constructing this pioneering flood prevention scheme.
“A project of this magnitude requires precision engineering, a wealth of expertise and a collaborative joined up approach to project delivery. We have been fortunate to use the expertise within the Council’s in-house team to offer the opportunity for apprentice and graduate design and engineering staff to work alongside the team throughout the project to gain specialised industry experience.
“I would like to thank the Scottish Government for the critical financial support from the Flood Scheme Fund that has enabled the Council to deliver a vital barrier to flood prevention and secured the longevity of communities and homes in the area.”
Enhanced environmental benefits to the wider community have been included as part of the scheme, with improved access to the towpath at the Caledonian Canal and improved walking and cycling routes along the length of the scheme with planting, seating, paths and a play area.
Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Net Zero and Just Transition Mairi McAllan said: “Flooding can have devastating consequences for communities, businesses and individuals so the opening of this new scheme is good news for Caol and Lochyside communities and will providing lasting protection for 296 properties against the risk of flooding.
“The Scottish Government has contributed around £10M of the total scheme costs – an investment which demonstrates our ongoing commitment to do all we can to reduce flood risk across Scotland. Managing our exposure to floods and their impacts is a significant and growing challenge as climate change brings more severe and frequent flood events.
“We will continue to work with and support local authorities to deliver actions that protect our communities and businesses. I recognise the hard work and dedication that the Council has invested in bringing the scheme forward and would like to congratulate the Council and all partners who have been involved in delivering it.”
Lochaber Area Committee Chair, Cllr Kate Willis said: “I would like to thank the people of Lochaber, and especially residents in Caol and Lochyside, for their patience and understanding throughout the construction phase.
“It has been an arduous project and I would also like to extend my gratitude to everyone that ensured the timely delivery of the scheme. The new flood scheme will undoubtedly improve peace of mind for residents and help protect them from the damaging effects of flooding in the future.”
Further details about the Caol and Lochyside Flood Prevention Scheme can be found here
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