MSP attacks flood strategy response

Ballater was swamped when the River Dee burst its banks
Ballater was swamped when the River Dee burst its banks

The Scottish Government has been attacked after describing its flood prevention strategy as “satisfactory”.

Aberdeenshire West MSP Alexander Burnett branded finance secretary Derek Mackay’s response as “insulting” to residents.

During the draft Scottish budget debate at Holyrood last week, Mr Burnett warned the SNP will cut how much it spends on defences in real terms.

The Scottish Conservative, whose constituency includes several areas that have been severely affected by flooding in recent years, was told by Mr Mackay there would be no extra money to protect at-risk areas.

The MSP said that the SNP have left communities such as Ballater and Kemnay “high and dry” because cash-strapped councils will be unable to fund the coastal and riverbank improvements needed to prevent a repeat of Storm Frank’s destruction in 2016.

Mr Burnett previously called for an earlier national review to potentially save “neglected” communities.

He asked Mr Mackay: “Can the Cabinet Secretary explain why he is proposing that spending on the prevention of flooding will decrease in real terms while so many communities remain at risk, including several in my constituency.”

Mr Mackay responded by saying the amount currently spent on the flood strategy is “satisfactory”.

After the budget vote, Mr Burnett said: “If the Dee and Don flowed through the central belt, I think people would suspect there would be more help for people in places like Ballater and Kemnay.

“I found Mr Mackay’s answer insulting to residents and flood management groups across Scotland, who are asking what the government are going to do before the next big storm event hits.”

He added: “The UK Government handed him an extra £950 million for this budget.

“The onus is being left to councils – even though he gave them no money to fill the gap.”