Controversial flood protection scheme in coastal town prompts local protest

Locals urge council to consider more 'sensitive' flood protection measures as some fear plans will 'ruin' the character of the town.

A controversial flood defence plan which has sparked local outcry has been given the go-ahead to move to the next stage.

The Musselburgh Flood Protection Scheme has prompted protests in the East Lothian town after residents raised concerns over the impact as well as the cost of the project.

Estimated costs for the project have risen from £8.9m back in 2016 to around £53.9m.

The scheme aims to provide flood protection to about 3,000 properties in Musselburgh at risk from a major flood event and includes a range of physical defences, such as a future-proofed sea wall.

But opponents of the scheme want it to be paused, claiming not enough work has been carried out to find ‘natural solutions’.

Roger Crofts is one of the many locals who are protesting against the controversial flood prevention scheme that could be built here.

Artists impression shows walls and embankments which will be built as part of the Musselburgh Flood Protection Scheme.

He has lived in the town for 11 years.

He said: “I get up in the morning and the first thing I do is look out of the window to the river and then I stand by the river and look at what birds are there.

“It’s a strong feeling that you have a connection with where you are and we don’t want that ruined.

“We need some flood protection, we know that – but we need it to be more sensitive”.

Opponents of the scheme have said they want “co-production of options that reduce the flood risk and preserve the character of the town focussing on nature-based solutions on the Esk river catchment and along the coast.”

The council planners say the flood walls proposed for areas around the River Esk have been reduced in height to one metre to address concerns over their impact.

But locals say it is not enough.

Artists impression shows walls and embankments which will be built as part of the Musselburgh Flood Protection Scheme.

Resident Margaret Mackay said: “I’m in favour of flood prevention – I am against this scheme.

“There are other solutions. You need to deal with the problem, upstream as well as here, where the actual flood risk is.”

The council will now undertake formal ‘notification’ of the Musselburgh Flood Protection Scheme to the Scottish Government.

It said a decision on whether to go ahead with the project is still to be taken, with further opportunities for the community to provide feedback and ask questions regarding the proposals.

Thomas Reid, head of Infrastructure at East Lothian Council said: “The modelling and the data suggest that Musselburgh is very much at risk.

“We have a unique opportunity to get investment to protect the community, to protect the fabric of life and all of these people who have homes and businesses who need protected – for me, they need this.”

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