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Sturgeon to meet flood-hit communities as relief details urged

Opposition parties call on ministers to set out how £5m of emergency funding will be spent.

Flooding: Ministers to announce relief plans. STV

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon will travel to the north east on Saturday to meet residents affected by flooding.

It comes as opposition parties called on ministers to set out how they will spend funding to help flood-hit communities.

The UK Government announced in December that £50m has been made available to help those affected by the severe weather, but details of how much will go to Scotland have yet to emerge.

The north east has been hit by heavy rain, causing severe disruption to travel, the evacuation of homes in some parts of Aberdeenshire, and two severe flood warnings for Inverurie and Kintore. It follows flooding across other parts of the country, including Tayside and the Borders, as a result of Storm Frank.

The Scottish Conservatives have lodged a request for a full ministerial statement from environment secretary Richard Lochhead on how the Scottish Government plans to fund flood relief. The party is also calling for clarity on whether Scottish ministers intend to set up a Farming Recovery Fund to help with short-term damage to soil, tracks and flood channels.

Tory MSP Alex Fergusson said: “The floods are having a devastating effect on families, individuals and businesses across Scotland, and it’s been a really miserable time for those who have been affected.

“Enough of the bluff and bluster – ministers really need to be explaining what’s going on. They are in charge and they have a responsibility to act. Councils are struggling with a lack of funding for future flood defences and farmers are still waiting for support cash months after the SNP promised it.

“The Scottish Government must explain what is going on and how they intend to spend funds which are needed to help people right now.”

Scottish Liberal Democrat MSP Alison McInnes said: “After the Scottish Government’s resilience meeting last night, the deputy first minister said the committee was monitoring the situation very closely. But people here do not need ministers who are glued to their seats.

“The deputy first minister telling us additional funding will be made available to Aberdeenshire Council is welcome in the longer term. But this is an ever-changing emergency situation that requires urgent attention right now, and people here are wondering when the Scottish Government is going to sit up and take notice.”

Inverurie: Emergency services respond. STV

Labour Group leader on Aberdeenshire Council Alison Evison said: “This situation is desperate for families in Aberdeenshire and Aberdeen.

“More families have been out of their home overnight and not able to return. Areas of Aberdeenshire have been suffering serious flooding for days now and recovery and relief work has continued throughout this time.

“The SNP Government need to take action swiftly to help communities and to help all affected businesses and infrastructure across flooded areas.

“It’s also clear that, given the scale of flooding across Scotland, we need a review to ensure resilience of our flooding infrastructure, so we can better protect homes, businesses and communities in the future.”

Speaking after chairing a meeting of the Scottish Government’s resilience committee, Ms Sturgeon praised the efforts of agencies helping communities across the north east and said more information about relief efforts would be outlined on Saturday.

She said: “Again I am impressed by the efforts of the emergency responders who are working round the clock to protect our communities.

“The Scottish Government is committed to supporting this effort and I plan to outline further assistance tomorrow when I meet those affected.”

She added: “I have also heard about the work of transport agencies who are doing everything possible to get the north east moving again after the significant damage to transport infrastructure.”

Measures include Network Rail maintenance teams at flood locations, the use of pumps and sweepers on trunk roads, and monitoring by the National Traffic Control Centre.

The Scottish Government said it will “continue to work with responders and will do everything to ensure they have the support they need to help the north east of Scotland return to some level or normality”.

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