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Objectors to be involved in flood plans

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By Marc McLean, local democracy reporter
Dumfries and West
Objectors to be involved in flood plans

OBJECTORS to a controversial flood protection scheme in Newton Stewart will have their say and be able to influence its plans, council chiefs have insisted.

Dumfries and Galloway Council officers leading the development of the scheme this week acknowledged the opposition in the community and have vowed to work closely with the public to reach a compromise.

The Newton Stewart Flood Protection Scheme was discussed by councillors and officials at the council’s communities committee on Tuesday.

Mid Galloway and Wigtown West Councillor Jackie McCamon, vice chairwoman of the committee, represents the ward where many of the objectors live.

She said: “Since the papers were published, I’ve had many constituents – particularly the objectors – come to me with feedback.”

She asked for clarification on proposed actions for the flood protection scheme listed in the report.

Councillor McCamon then added: “Is it normal practice to alert the objectors of the proposed actions, and are they able to respond at this point or thereafter?”

James McLeod, the council’s infrastructure manager, said: “The next stage of the process is to work with the objectors to try and remove the objections, so very much it’s an open and transparent process.

He added: “It is about trying to resolve the objections ahead of potentially ending up at a hearing or a public local inquiry.”

Michael Smith, the council’s project manager for the flood protection scheme, added: “We have written to them (objectors) all already and quite a few of them have responded to us.”

Mr Smith added that, if the scheme gets confirmed and goes to the detailed design stage, that “all the actions and mitigations are a piece of work we will do with further engagement with the community to design a better scheme.”

Councillors agree to proceed to the next stage, however Laura Whitelaw, the local authority’s legal chief, reassured the public that there is still some way to go before a final decision – and that objectors will still have a proper say.

“Going through an inquiry held by Scottish ministers or a hearing, there will be a public opportunity for all those who have submitted objections to be notified of the next step in the process”, she said.

“They can involve themselves in that process before a final decision is made on it.”

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