Within the next few weeks Scottish Water (SW) will begin installing an underground tank and ‘associated above ground kiosks’ in Newington Park, where flash floods and overflowing sewers have caused damage to houses nearby in recent years.
Sections of the local sewer network will be upgraded as part of the £5 million project, which was recently granted full planning approval by Dumfries and Galloway Council.
Most of the park – including the children’s play area – will be closed for around 14 months whilst the work is carried out.
Scottish Water assured locals they will still have access around the edge of the park and to the football pitch, and pledged to upgrade playpark equipment ahead of reopening next year.
Plans state the project seeks to “provide a robust solution to address existing known internal and external flooding at Rose Street, Charles Street and Greenlea Road, Annan”.
However, not all locals are in support of the scheme.
Brian Denner, who lives on Newington Avenue believes there is “no reason to build it where it’s being built,” and that the project is “nothing to do with flooding in Newington Park at all”.
“What they (SW) fail to tell anybody is they don’t maintain the storm drains,” he said. “I’ve never seen anyone clean the storm drains in this town, ever. I’ve always said that if they cleared the storm drains on a regular basis or upgraded them they wouldn’t have a single problem with flooding.”
Mr Denner claimed that after recently having his house professionally evaluated, he was told the tank’s installation could devalue his property by “at least £20,000”.
Philip Hyslop, who also lives beside the site, said: “They’re putting a sewage tank in the middle of a park that’s in the middle of a residential area – that’s going to devalue our houses. You wouldn’t have it in the back of your garden would you?
“There was never any sewer flooding, never any flooding with water or anything until they stuck those tanks in Standalane. It’s the new builds at the top of the town that’s caused the flooding down here, and what they want to do is put the tanks in the middle of the park to take the sewage off of them up there.”
Mr Hyslop accused the publicly-owned company of “pulling the wool over everybody’s eyes” regarding the nature of the tank, adding: “It’s not waste water, it’s sewage. In the middle of a housing scheme it’s not right.”
A written response to Philip’s concerns from Scottish Water’s stakeholder development manager, Bill Elliot, maintained the “major investment” is to “help prevent internal and external sewer flooding” in properties around the park.
Explaining the specific function of the tank and associated works, Mr Elliot said that when sewers in the town are overloaded, the waste water redirected to the cesspool will only remain there “until storms subside,” adding that the water will then be “pumped back into the sewers”.
He concluded: “I hope this update provides you reassurance that Scottish Water is fully committed to delivering this project for the community and our affected customers while making sure we are minimising impact to residents.”
Meanwhile, Annandale South councillor Richard Brodie commented: “The new scheme will be of benefit to residents in Charles Street, Rose Street and Greenlea Road because of the flooding issues over the last decade.
“The points raised by concerned residents hopefully have been answered fully, but if there are any problems they would be monitored very closely.”