budget to protect vulnerable communities slashed

Green Lothians MSP Mark Ballard today attacked the Scottish Executive for halving this year’s budget for flood prevention across Scotland.

Ministers claim this is partly due to problems with obtaining planning permission for schemes such as the Water of Leith – and Greens fear that crucial project will now be subject to further delays and funding problems.

The Executive’s Spring Budget revision cuts £17m from the flood prevention programme, down to only £14.8m this year. The figures were revealed today at a meeting of the Parliament’s Finance Committee.

Mr Ballard said, “Thanks to ministers failure to take action, this money may now not be available in future to complete the flood protection scheme. Communities along the Water of Leith were hit hard by flooding in 2000 – it is disgraceful that seven years on we still have no work being undertaken to provide proper flood defences.

“The Scottish Rugby Union (SRU) objected to the initial plans because they would have meant that Murrayfield practice pitches were designated as flood plain and could be developed as new housing. Ministers have sat on the SRU’s objections, not taking action one way or another for the past two years. Parliament voted to spend money on protecting the Water of Leith against flooding – it is an outrage that the Executive cannot make a decision.”

Mr Ballard further challenged deputy minister for finance George Lyon to ensure that the work would be completed as soon as possible in the next financial year, but Mr Lyon was unable to provide any assurances that communities on the Water of Leith will see action to prevent flooding in the near future.