New Forth bridge flood risk to homes ‘minimal’

Echline residents cross a flooded road last summer. Picture: Gordon McBrearty
Echline residents cross a flooded road last summer. Picture: Gordon McBrearty
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Residents who blame construction works on the new Forth Road Bridge for flooding their homes have been assured there is “minimal” risk of a repeat.

Parts of South Queensferry were deluged several times last summer and homeowners are still trying to repair the damage and settle insurance claims.

Residents’ group Bridge Replacement Interests Group South (BRIGS) claims inadequate flood prevention measures meant rainwater just ran off hard-packed fields where construction work was under way and flowed down into people’s homes.

One flooding victim, Ian Robinson, 65, of Springfield Road, said: “The bridge people keep saying it was just due to the amount of rain. If they had dug proper ditches in the fields it would not have happened.”

He said the flood in July had been “quite a frightening thing”. “It flooded the whole garden, came through the airbricks in the house and almost came up through the floorboards. Luckily, the car was not in the garage so it was ok.”

He had to have a dehumidifier in the house for a week to dry it out and is still trying to settle his insurance claim.

In evidence to the Scottish Parliament’s infrastructure committee, BRIGS said residents were furious at the way Transport Scotland and contractors FCBC handled a series of ten separate flooding incidents between December 2009 and last August.

It said heavy drilling machines operating in the fields in the Echline area at the end of 2009 had left hard-packed soil and large tyre ruts, which led to water running off the land, flooding over the A904 and down the B924, causing flooding into several properties at Echline Corner.

“This matter was dealt with by the city council. Transport Scotland took no interest in this incident, although their construction activities were clearly the cause of this flooding.

“Thereafter, as construction activities increased, nine further flooding incidents occurred.”

Edinburgh Pentlands SNP MSP Gordon MacDonald quizzed Transport Scotland officials over the flooding incidents when they appeared before the committee.

He said: “As a former resident of South Queensferry I’m aware there has been virtually no flooding in that area prior to the project starting. While I accept there was some bad weather last year, I’m a bit concerned that everything seems to point to this project starting and possibly there was no adequate risk assessment carried out in relation to flooding.”

He said he understood the best estimate was that drainage works would be completed at the end of this year or beginning of next. “Does that mean if we have a bad summer as we had last year, householders in the Echline area are going to have to suffer flooding again?”

But Lawrence Shackman, Transport Scotland project manager on the Forth Replacement Crossing, told him: “The risk of flooding is very, very minimal now because a lot of measures have now been put in place.

“There are temporary holding basins, and a vast amount of the construction has been excavated north of the A904. There is a big excavation for the junction at the A904, which can be used as a sump. Temporary pumps and outfalls are in place to cater for any major flooding event.”