£40m canal flood plan to help Glasgow expand

An artists impression of how the area around Sighthill jetties could be transformed under the scheme. Picture: Scottish Canals
An artists impression of how the area around Sighthill jetties could be transformed under the scheme. Picture: Scottish Canals
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A pioneering scheme will combine cutting-edge technology with an 18th-century engineering feat to combat flooding and allow regeneration in one of the most rundown parts of Scotland’s biggest city.

The project will see the 250-year-old Forth and Clyde Canal used as part of a groundbreaking drainage network that will allow much-needed housing to be built on wasteland in the north of Glasgow.

Experts who came up with the concept believe utilising the canal to capture and remove surface water is a more cost-effective and sensitive solution than the conventional alternative, which would involve constructing a tunnel under Glasgow city centre to the River Clyde at a potential cost of £40 million.

This “intelligent” water management system will reduce the risk of flooding, help safeguard water quality and improve habitats for wildlife. Live meteorological data and remote sensors will provide an early warning of wet weather, with special sluices allowing the canal level to be lowered by as much as 100mm to provide 42,000 cubic metres of extra capacity for flood water.

It means thousands of new homes and facilities can be built in the Sighthill, Cowlairs and Port Dundas areas of the city, where the sewer network has been unable to cope with expansion.

The waterway concept is the brainchild of engineering and design consultancy Aecom, in collaboration with Scottish Water, Scottish Canals and Glasgow City Council.

Richard Millar, director of infrastructure at Scottish Canals, said: “This is taking what is a 250-year-old asset and giving it a real significant purpose in the 21st century.

“The ability to use a man-made, engineered canal and dynamically manage the water will bring fantastic opportunities for north Glasgow. We have a large area of water there – 20 miles – and we’ll have the ability when we know there is a storm coming in to drop the canal water level by 100mm, maybe more if we need to, and prepare space to take the surface water from various new developments.

“Many of these developments have been on hold or have not been possible because of the significant costs of proper surface water management.”

Work is set to start next year and it is hoped the first development connections can be made in 2018.