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Ministers confirm Public Local Inquiry for Whitesands

The raised walkway design was presented in December 2016 Photo: ITV Border

The Scottish Government has confirmed it will hold a Local Public Inquiry to investigate whether the preferred design for the Whitesands Flood Protection Scheme will go ahead.

This comes after Dumfries and Galloway Council's request to Scottish Ministers.

Following the inquiry, ministers will either:

  • Confirm the scheme without modifications
  • Confirm the scheme with modifications
  • Reject the scheme

The raised walkway design was presented to the Economy, Environment and Infrastructure Committee and Full Council in December 2016.

The original design was put forward in 2012, and has since been significantly changed with the help of public feedback.

The cost of the plans are said to have now risen to £25million.

Whitesands floods in 2009 Credit: ITV Border

On receiving the information from the Government, the Leader of the Council said:

This administration is absolutely committed to a Flood Protection for the Whitesands that incorporates much needed improvements in the public realm.

It is totally unacceptable that Dumfries is the largest town in Scotland that still floods.

We firmly believe that this Project to be the correct one for Dumfries to protect properties from flooding and also to encourage the regeneration of the Whitesands area and Dumfries town centre.

– Elaine Murray, Leader, D&G Council
The area is hit by flooding every couple of years Credit: ITV Border

The Depute Leader of the Council added:

I am pleased that the Scottish Ministers have confirmed that they are calling in the Scheme for consideration.

In their letter to the Council, Scottish Government officials confirmed that a Public Local Inquiry would provide an opportunity for a fresh consideration of the Project through an external, independent process.

We believe the Whitesands should have a flood protection scheme but it has to be the right scheme and a Public Local Inquiry will ensure that happens.”

– Rob Davidson, Depute Leader, D&G Council

Following confirmation of the inquiry, Dumfriesshire MSP Oliver Mundell has stepped up his calls for the Whitesands Flooding Scheme to be axed.

Oliver Mundell with local shopkeeper, Don Irving Credit: Mundell Media

Mr Mundell has raised concerns over the flooding plans since being elected last year:

I have brought up time and time again major concerns over the plans for a bund on the sands and I hope that this inquiry will show that the council have been wrong to take this forward.

Costs have spiralled out of control for a project which amounts to a very expensive piece of landscape gardening which local people and businesses simply do not want.

With budgets under ever increasing strain, the last thing taxpayers needs is a bund scheme costing £25m.

I hope that the inquiry will recognise the strength of feeling locally, with thousands of people signing a petition to Save Our Sands and hundreds of businesses and locals putting in formal objections.

Any solution to flooding on the Sands must be done by listening properly to the views of local people and not railroading through an unpopular and ill thought out scheme.”

– Oliver Mundell MSP, Dumfriesshire