Angus communities do not want 'warm words' in response to storm's devastation

North east MSP Tess White appeal for financial support for communities affected by the storm.North east MSP Tess White appeal for financial support for communities affected by the storm.
North east MSP Tess White appeal for financial support for communities affected by the storm.
“Warm words” will not be enough to bolster communities left on the edge by Storm Babet, Scottish Ministers have been warned.

Councils and residents across Scotland, particularly in the north east, are reckoning with the damage caused by two months’ worth of rain in two days.

MSPs at Holyrood heard that Angus Council, whose £16 million flood defence scheme in Brechin was swept aside, is one of the local authorities unable to bounce back financially.

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Although, on a visit to the town, First Minister Humza Yousaf indicated support is coming, there have been no details of financial support beyond what is already budgeted for Scotland each year.

Home affairs secretary Angela Constance said three councils have now applied to the Scottish Government for financial support.

At the start of Holyrood business, North East region MSP Tess White appealed for financial support.

And fellow Scottish Conservative colleague Maurice Golden urged a review of the government’s river management plan – following local concerns that the South Esk’s water levels were increased by undredged sediment.

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Ms White said: “With lives tragically lost, homes destroyed and livelihoods in jeopardy, communities in Angus don’t want warm words.

“They want reassurances that Angus Council will have the funds it needs to support people who have lost everything, to shore up the flood defence scheme, and expedite urgent structural repairs.

“This is the Scottish Government’s responsibility – when will this money that you mention be coming?”

And Mr Golden said: “In June, the Cabinet Secretary for Net Zero told me she had "absolute confidence" in the river basin management plans. Well, we've just witnessed how severe weather caused rivers in the north east to burst their banks, overwhelm flood defences and leave communities devastated.

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“Yes, this was an extreme weather event, but our plans must be up to those challenges too. So, will the Cabinet Secretary now agree to review those plans?

Ms Constance responded: “We are absolutely committed to practically and financially supporting that recovery. I can confirm to Chamber that three local authorities have notified the Scottish Government of potential claims relating to Storm Babet.

“Obviously all of these local areas are currently in the throes of assessing the extent of the damage and what is required. But let me reassure the member that there will indeed be very extensive and intensive discussions between the Scottish government and our partners at local level…

“It is important to recognise that while flood prevention schemes can help prevent and they often do work, they have worked most recently in Brechin in November, but they can also help to delay the impact and buy valuable time to help evacuate householders. But the point that Mr Golden is making is that there does indeed need to be a cross community and cross government plan that is indeed constantly reviewed.”