Final phase of Moray flood defences gets go-ahead

Posted: Friday 2nd November 2012

The Moray Council has given the go-ahead to the Forres (River Findhorn & Pilmuir) Flood Alleviation Scheme. This, the fifth and final part of the Moray Flood Alleviation schemes, is part of a broader flood prevention programme put together by The Moray Council for an area that has suffered greatly from flooding in the past.

The Forres (River Findhorn and Pilmuir) project will protect Forres from flooding from the River Findhorn & Pilmuir catchment. This will be achieved by re-creating riverside flood plains, constructing set-back flood defences and forming a new drainage channel complete with pumping station. In addition, a 400m length of the A96 trunk road will be raised to the west of Forres. Taken together, these measures provide a 1 in 200 year standard of defence plus an allowance for climate change, benefiting nearly 1,000 homes and businesses.

The project has been managed through Moray Flood Alleviation, which was formed in 2002 and brings together the expertise of The Moray Council, civil engineering consultant Royal HaskoningDHV, Morrison Construction and EC Harris providing cost consultancy.

The full programme has been costed at £177 million, with around £45 million allocated to this final phase. As well as bringing significant revenue and employment opportunities into the local economy, the project is predicted to repay the original investment three times over in terms of damage averted and lives and livelihoods protected.

Commenting on the Forres (River Findhorn & Pilmuir) scheme, project director Dave Gowans said: “The River Findhorn runs close to the western side of Forres and, while it has not flooded in recent years, it has the potential to cause catastrophic damage. The Pilmuir catchment is a very different proposition, posing what is essentially a surface water drainage problem that is exacerbated by its proximity to the River Findhorn.

The underlying geology combined with the topography and hydrology has meant that the design has been technically challenging. By combining the Findhorn and Pilmuir catchments, the team has been able to develop a scheme that completes the flood defences for Forres in a cost effective manner.”

Flooding in north east of Scotland is not a new problem, but the effect of climate change and increased land usage in recent years has put Moray’s towns of Elgin, Forres, Lhanbryde and Rothes at higher flood risk, and a priority for alleviation.

So far three schemes have been completed; at Lhanbryde, Forres (Burn of Mosset) and Rothes. A fourth scheme in Elgin is currently under construction. The schemes at Lhanbryde and Forres (Burn of Mosset) have already proved successful, working to avoid millions of pounds in flood damage in September 2009.

Councillor George Alexander, chairman of Moray Council’s Flood Alleviation Sub-Committee, said “It may be more than 40 years since the River Findhorn last caused major flooding, but the threat is always there. The economic benefits of the scheme, set against the potential cost of damage that a serious flood would cause, are not in question and we look forward to the scheme progressing well and being completed on time and within budget.”

Construction on the Forres (River Findhorn and Pilmuir) project commenced on 3 September, with completion in Spring 2015.

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