Council authorities and private businesses approving and installing flood defenses along the River Dee could be exacerbating the problem of flooding by not working together to create a unified defence system.
It comes as SEPA estimates the rain that fell on the first weekend of October, which saw the Dee bursts its banks, broke an eleven year record. A 115mm of rain fell near Stonehaven in a 24-hour period, smashing the previous record of 86.6mm which fell in 2009.
A resident of Cults fears that properties installing personal defences against such severe weather events are pushing floodwaters to other areas that are unprotected.
Mrs Hulme, whose house is situated on Loirsbank Road, Cults, just one hundred yards from the Dee, was concerned how quickly the floodplains between her property and the river filled during the heavy rain experienced a week ago.
Whilst it’s considered the flooding in 2015 was worse, Mrs Hulme was certain the floodplain in front of her house filled quicker this time around.
She pointed to the golf centre directly across the river, which installed a flood defence system after the floods of 2015 left the centre having to close for almost half a year.
Mrs Hulme told The Reporter: “When Paul Lawrie was putting in his defences I was thinking this isn’t solving the problem, and the fact our floodplain flooded so quickly on Saturday night tells me that what he’s done might have worked for him, but it’s also pushing water elsewhere.”
The Scottish Environment Protection Agency said the responsibility of flood defence planning lies with local councils. Fair enough, however the problem is somewhat convoluted in this case, with part of the Dee being the boundary between Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire Council, which adds an extra layer of management in the co-ordination of defences.
The Reporter asked both councils whether the two authorities work together to ensure flood defences are installed with consideration for areas outwith their jurisdictions.
Aberdeenshire Council did confirm they do work with other authorities to try make defences as uniform as possible, however Aberdeen City Council held a slightly different tone, saying because the issue involved another authority they would have to “investigate further” the complaint in question.
A spokesperson for Aberdeen City Council said: “This is a specific query being raised in relation to an individual property and work approved by another local authority. We are unable to comment further until officers have an opportunity to investigate and discuss with the relevant parties.”
A spokesperson for Aberdeenshire Council said: “Assessments of the impact of a development in respect of flooding, both on and off-site, is done irrespective of which local authority area may be affected. Where appropriate, consultation with relevant bodies such as SEPA or an adjoining local authority, takes place.”
Mrs Hulme is unsure about Aberdeenshire Council’s claim saying she knows of lots of defences being installed and still the problem of flooding is not going away.
Mrs Hulme said: “The thing that has changed since the flooding five years ago is lots of people have put in flood defences which in my opinion have made the problem worse.
“It’s great for people who have the defences, but not for people who don’t.”
Representative of Paul Lawrie Golf Centre provides response to Mrs Hulme’s claims
Michael MacDougall, former head of the PGA in Scotland and now oversees the Paul Lawrie Golf Foundation replied to Ms Hulme’s concerns about flood defenses saying: “The flood defences at Paul Lawrie Golf Centre are about making the fabric of the building more resistant to floods since PLGC sits on a natural flood plain. SEPA were consulted and the defences were made to the building itself, not the land around it. Changes have not been made to the flood plain.”
A month’s rainfall in a day
SEPA calculated that 115mm of rain fell on the weekend of the 4th of October in Mongour near Stonehaven, beating a previous record set in the area in 2009 of 86.6mm.
It stated that that amount of rain is well over a month’s average rainfall, which came down in one day.
SEPA is also concerned that not enough members of the public have joined their flood alert system, with only 44 per cent of properties in flood warning areas in Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire signing up to the service.
If you want to sign up to receive early flood warning from SEPA go to http://www.sepa.org.uk/signup.