Ballater flood prevention option concerns

The project was drawn up following the devastation caused by Storm Frank
The project was drawn up following the devastation caused by Storm Frank

Councillors have put forward the preferred option for flood protection in Ballater, despite objections from the community.

The estimated £31 million project would have 3.3km of direct defences with of 1.32km earth embankments, 800m reinforced concrete walls with 1.5m glass walls. A 1km wall would also be put in place downstream of the Royal Bridge.

However Marr Area Committee, heard on Tuesday that it could result in the relocation of the local fire station, police station and Ballater Caravan Park, while the proposed flood defences would cut through Ballater Golf Club.

Principal engineer for flood risk and coast protection Lee Watson said the height of the walls would vary, as would the sections of glass walls.

He added: “Our preferred option is a hard defence route. We considered different routes but the overall benefit has to outweigh the cost. There is no alternative and this is the only viable option at the moment.”

Ballater Golf Club president Jim Hunter said: “The club fully supports that Ballater needs flood defences but it rejects this plan. The club’s preferred option would see the defences follow the existing line but it understands this is not being investigated.

“The club is deeply concerned the plans are being considered as a fait accompli, and any disruption to the club would have an impact on its future. Some of our members have said they will look to join other clubs if this plan goes ahead.”

Concerns were also raised by Ballater and Crathie Community Council (BCCC) chair Jim Anderson, secretary Fiona Presslie and Michael Coletta, former chair of Ballater Flood Response Group.

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They said: “The community council formed the Ballater Flood Response Group (BFRG) in June 2019 to consult with relevant stakeholders in the village who would be affected by the proposals. BFRG has held four meetings since its formation, one of which was open to the public and was attended by around 100 people. Everyone agreed that defences were needed however a show of hands resulted in around 70-80 percent of people showing that they were against the proposals.

“There is uncertainty as to whether the proposal is in its final form or will be able to be improved. Due to this uncertainty much of the community is unwilling to support it and therefore the BCCC, in representing the views and opinions of the majority in Ballater, cannot support the proposal.

“However if the council could amend it to meet the concerns of the village and engage in a meaningful and full public consultation, then it would have the support of the community and the BCCC.”

Committee chair Councillor Moira Ingleby said: “It is absolutely accepted that Ballater needs protection. I will support this on the basis that a huge amount of work has been done and I am not prepared to put the public at risk by rejecting funding.”

The preferred option will now go to the infrastructure services committee.