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Anger after flood defence scheme 'damages' homes

Householders who have never been flooded are seeking compensation for damage caused to their property by controversial flood defence works.

Residents in Edinburgh have so far made 18 claims involving work being carried out on the Water of Leith Flood Prevention Scheme – which is a year overdue and could cost nearly twice the £11.5 million bill after rain and "unforeseen land conditions" hit the project.

The city council was unable to say how much the claims were worth, but it is bracing itself for further compensation demands.

Bill Sinclair, 77, who lives on the first floor of a B-Listed building in St Bernard's Row, Stockbridge, has been badly hit by the works.

He said: "I had to leave my house for 10 days while the pile driving was going on. The whole building was shaking. Ornaments were falling off shelves.

"This wonderful house has sat here for 180 years and within a matter of weeks there were cracks in the walls and I can't open the door properly. The stress has been unbelievable. I could be doing without this at my age. I know others are affected, and we don't know how bad it's going to get."

The scheme was initiated after about 500 properties suffered flooding from the Water of Leith in 2000, costing an estimated £25m of damage. But Mr Sinclair believes the project was not necessary on its current scale.

He said: "All the disruption, distress and massive cost involved in preventing St Bernard's Row from flooding once in the next 200 years was needless."

Neighbour Deborah Anderson said her first-floor home in the Colonies in Stockbridge was also damaged. She is unable to raise scaffolding at her home because of the works which are now not due to be completed until next autumn. She said: "I have written to the council about this."

Nigel Bagshaw, Green Party councillor for Inverleith, is backing the residents.

He said: "I have been shown damage to local buildings which has undoubtedly been caused by the flood protection works.

"I hope the council will make it easy and simple for local residents to claim compensation for damage to their homes which has clearly resulted from the works.

"Many of them have suffered from stress and putting obstacles in the way of making claims would be to add insult to injury."

A council spokesman said: "We are investigating some claims related to the Water of Leith Flood Prevention Scheme. These cases will be examined thoroughly."

The Herald earlier revealed the first phase of the Water of Leith scheme – from Stockbridge to Bonnington – was recorded in council papers as sitting at £21m. But the council said this cost is not fixed and a report is due early next year. The council does not have enough money to finish phase two of the project – from Murrayfield to Belford – and phase three – Balgreen to Longstone.

Completion of these would cost an additional £65.9m.

Lesley Hinds, council environment leader, said the flood prevention scheme had been hit by factors including "adverse weather and alterations to the design brought about by unforeseen land conditions".

Contextual targeting label: 
Local government

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