The biggest flood alleviation scheme ever undertaken in Scotland was officially opened today.
The £86million project – which took almost five years to complete – will protect around 1,130 residential and business premises in Elgin.
Today’s ceremony, which saw the unveiling of an 8ft-high marble slab on the banks of the River Lossie, was performed by Roseanna Cunningham, the Cabinet Secretary for the environment, climate change and land reform, and Moray Council convener Allan Wright.
The Scottish Government provided 70 per cent of the funding for the scheme, work on which began after three devastating floods in the space of 12 years.
Families were forced to flee their homes and local businesses also badly hit on all three occasions when transport links in and around the town were also severely disrupted.
The flood scheme has involved the creation of a series of embankments and flood walls which will allow floodwater from the River Lossie to pass safely through Elgin.
The flood plain has also been lowered in places and the project has also seen the construction of two new footbridges and a road bridge spanning the river at Pansport.
The Cabinet Secretary said: “Flooding can have devastating consequences for communities, businesses and individuals. I am therefore delighted to be here today to open this new scheme which will provide lasting flooding protection for around 1130 homes and businesses in Elgin.
“The Scottish Government is committed to reducing flood risk across Scotland and will continue to make available £42million a year to fund important projects such as this to protect communities most at risk of flooding.”
Councillor Wright said:
“Today’s historic ceremony is taking place on the banks of a river which may appear benign but which, in 1997, 2002 and again in 2009, brought misery to the people of Elgin and caused tens of millions of pounds of damage and destruction.”
“The flood scheme represents the biggest single civil engineering project ever to have been completed in Moray and it has already gone part of the way in paying for itself.
“For, in August 2014, when work was still only partially completed and following a period of very heavy rainfall, it prevented what would certainly have been yet another catastrophic flood.
“The completion of this project, as marked by today’s ceremony, also represents the completion of an unprecedented programme of flood alleviation schemes implemented by Moray Council – and all funded to a very generous extent by the Scottish Government – which has seen not only Elgin spared the ravages of future flood events, but also Forres, Rothes and Lhanbryde, which have also had more than their share of flooding in recent years.”