Last week (1st March 2017) members of the Transport and Infrastructure committee of Comhairle nan Eilean Siar were given an update on progress with the development and delivery of measures designed to mitigate the possibility of future flooding around the South Ford area.
Earlier this year, Am Pàipear reported that Comhairle nan Eilean Siar has gone out to tender for survey work to explore what would be involved in creating a larger opening in South Ford causeway.
Meanwhile, as the report presented to members last week noted, it is still proposed to progress with a package of actions, including a beach-recharge scheme for Gualan Island, a natural breakwater forming one section of the South Ford basin, and a dune management scheme for Liniclate.
Here follows a response from Iochdar Community Council chairman Iain MacNeil:
We welcome the news that the Transportation and Infrastructure committee of Comhairle nan Eilean Siar has ‘noted’ the recent report on the South Ford Flood Risk Management and Causeway Feasibility Projects. Hats off to the Comhairle nan Eilean Siar’s in-house technical services department for including the option of a new causeway/bridge to the east of the present one. This is a really innovative approach.
There are, though, a number of things in the report which continue to concern the community. One is the insistence on carrying out a sand-shifting exercise on Gualan Island. While this is a recommendation of the Hydrodynamic Study, the condition which the survey lays down seems to be conveniently forgotten: “The participation and support from Stòras Uibhist and the local community is seen as being essential in the preparation of such a scheme.”
Neither Stòras Uibhist nor the local community has given their approval far less their participation. We would hope that Comhairle nan Eilean Siar does not repeat the folly of engaging in major engineering works on the South Ford without the support of the community.
An urgent concern, not included in the report to the Transportation committee, is the build-up of silt at the Clachan Mòr. The water entering Loch Bee is now a mere trickle.
We believe that there needs to be a properly thought – through strategic approach to the effective management of the South Ford – an approach which is supported by Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, Iochdar Community Council, Stòras Uibhsit, and the scientific community.
First build the new bridge/causeway. Then see what effect this new structure has on sand build-up and water flow on the South Ford. Then, if further remedial works are needed, they can be done.
We call for a public meeting to establish a co-ordinated strategic approach to the effective management of the South Ford. Let’s get the project right and then look for the money.
The safety and security of our people depends on it.
Iain A MacNeil
Iochdar Community Council