Flood protection: Funding concerns cannot delay vital Grangemouth scheme

Doubts over the funding of Scotland’s largest flood protection scheme should not mean any delay to the vital work that is due to take place in and around Grangemouth, Falkirk Council has said.

By Kirsty Paterson, Local Democracy Reporting Service
Tuesday, 26th October 2021, 11:49 am

The mammoth Grangemouth Flood Protection Scheme aims to protect 5,800 people, 2,650 homes and 330 businesses as well as the community’s road and rail infrastructure, with works that will stretch beyond Grangemouth to Langlees, Carron and Carronshore.

However, the final agreement on how much it will cost and who will foot the bill is still to be reached.

Nationally, the Scottish Government has paused all flood prevention work as it is facing a significant overspend in its Flood Risk Management programme.

Grangemouth Stags RFC flooded pitch in 2020 (Pic: Michael Gillen)

While it attempts to take stock of its expenditure, all councils agreed to pause all schemes which are not legally committed to allow a review to be undertaken.

That includes the Grangemouth project, but as this won’t impact on this year’s spend, Falkirk Council is hopeful the work will go ahead as planned for 2025.

Talks are still ongoing between the government and Falkirk Council about funding for the Grangemouth scheme – which was initially priced at £220 million but will almost certainly be much more.

Grangemouth Stags RFC flooded pitch.

The government has promised to be responsible for 80 per cent of the funding, with another 10 per cent from Falkirk Council and a further 10 per cent from Tax Incremental Finance scheme (TIF).

Finance director Bryan Smail said: “Certainly the Grangemouth scheme – which is the scheme that dwarfs all the others – has a price tag attached to it that as things sit isn’t affordable for the council and there needs to be a recognition that a properly resourced scheme needs to be put together.

“With a scheme of £3-400 million, you need to be realistic about the capacity to fund that so that’s very much an open dialogue with the Scottish Government at the moment.

“Ten per cent of a big number gives you another big number – if its £300 million, can we afford £30 million?

“If it’s £400 million, can we afford £40 million?”

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The scheme will also provide almost 27km of flood defence walls, embankments and involve the installation of flood gates, flow regulation measures and drainage works, including works at the entrance to the Port of Grangemouth.

A spokesperson for Falkirk Council said funding pressures wouldn’t have an impact on the plans.

Their statement added: “The Grangemouth Flood Protection Scheme remains the top priority national flood scheme and Falkirk Council continue to work closely with Scottish Government, SEPA and other partners to develop the outline scheme details and secure the financial package for delivery of this major infrastructure project.

“At this stage there is no indication that the national funding pressures will have any short-term impact on the scheme development stages.

“The project team still anticipate that the Scheme Notification process will commence as planned in the latter part of 2022 and, subject to necessary consents and approvals, construction of the Grangemouth scheme could begin around 2025.”

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