Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Flood risks in Nairn and surrounding area - what might happen and what needs to be done - A SEPA Flood Risk Management document

Nairn is presently enduring a damp period but thankfully we escaped the record-breaking downpours that hit other areas recently. We just have grey unpleasant skies to deal with compared with the misery of wrecked homes that others have had to endure. Nairn is an a potentially vulnerable area according to the authorities however.

Here perhaps our main worry is the sea or a combination of high tide and a spate in the River Nairn, the Auldearn Burn can also bring problems for Nairn residents and surface water is an issue too, often during heavy downpours it can get mixed up with sewage and come up at two or three pinch points in the system in the town.

One of our regular readers has sent us a link to a SEPA (Scottish Environmental Protection Agency) page that details Flood Risk Management strategies for Nairn East and Auldearn – “potentially vulnerable area” it also says in its title. It is a very interesting page with maps, statistics, historical information and details of what needs to be done to further prevent flooding”.

Historically SEPA state:

“The earliest recorded flood was in 1782, when one half of the bridge in Nairn was washed away. There were major floods on the River Nairn in 1820, 1825, 1829 (The Great Muckle Spate), 1865, 1874, 1877, 1914, 1915, 1937 and 1993. The Firhall Suspension Bridge and the Jubilee Bridge both collapsed and properties were affected during the July 1956 flood on the River Nairn. In July 1997, January 2005 and in 2014 properties and roads in Nairn were flooded from the Auldearn Burn.”

The River Nairn on 12 December 2012 more images here
Below is a graphic that comes early in the document which gives what seems to this observer to be the yearly risk - a further table in the document gives outcomes for “floods of different likelihood” up to 1 in a 1000 events.

The document goes into further detail about what needs to be done in the way of studies and further actions, it mentions the role of Highland Council and other agencies.

Our correspondent tells us: “I'm not sure what exactly it will mean in terms of measures and time-scales, but I know some locals will be reassured to know Nairn's "risks" are appraised. When you see the devastation elsewhere, I guess that we're not priority number one.

With the changing climate and downpour records and river levels being broken all over the UK this is certainly something we should all be paying attention to.


murd said...

In my opinion the possibility of the river flooding Fisher Town could easily be prevented .
Build A calvert and let the water flood on to the golf course plenty of room for it there. IF any one has seen the pictures of the 1956 floods they can see Not A drop went over in to Fisher Town. Houses were flooded but not a drop in fisher town.
Ask the people of Fisher Town what they would prefer there homes or A golf course. flooded.
Because there is no other option.

Anonymous said...

Murd is right, the old flood plain (The Maggot) was filled in. A new one could be built (sorry golfers) that could include a lip or sill so that the tide refreshed it but left behind a volume of water that would be attractive for small craft and especially young people. Not only would this help prevent flooding but would provide a new leisure facility as well

I've heard this idea being put forward by several people in the town

wellie boots said...

Interesting to look at the SEPA plans. In fact there are three separate local Flood Risk Management Strategy (or Plan) areas. There is Nairn West and Ardersier (Potentially Vulnerable Area 1/17 - see link http://apps.sepa.org.uk/FRMStrategies/pdf/pva/PVA_01_17_Full.pdf). Then there is Nairn Central (PVA 01/18 - see http://apps.sepa.org.uk/FRMStrategies/pdf/pva/PVA_01_18_Full.pdf). And there is Nairn East and Auldearn (PVA 05/08) the one mentioned in this Gurn piece. All these areas have suffered flooding in the past.

Why is this interesting? Because curiously, the flood risk planning does not look at the River Nairn as a single task or risk. Problems west of the river (Nairn Central and towards Ardersier) come under the "Highland and Argyll" local plan district. Problems east of the river come under the "Findhorn Nairn and Speyside" district. Each of these will have a separate flood protection study and scheme, even though the risk is from the same river. So much for a joined-up approach....

In the SEPA document for each vulnerable area, there is a task-heading "Flood Protection Study", and an entry showing responsibility for delivery of the study. Highland Council in each case. Nairn Central is Priority 2 out of 23 for Highland Council, Nairn East & Auldearn 6 of 23, and Nairn West & Ardersier 20 of 23.

And how is the Council progressing with this work - especially Nairn Central (which includes Fishertown) and is the second-highest priority flood-study needed in the region? Umm - it's shown as "Not Started", and has an indicative delivery date of 2016-2021. That's just for the study, not for any protection/prevention measures.

So much for being well-prepared. Fishertown residents had better keep their fingers crossed that there are no heavy rains, high tides and spates in the next five years at least: your Council hasn't even begun to look at examining the potential requirement for flood defences.

Impressive, isn't it?

Graisg said...

Thanks for that anon, that Central doc deserves to go up in its own right

Anonymous said...

Wouldn't the caravan park be flooded out if water was diverted onto the golf course?

murd said...

I do not think it would?
But pleas tell me and others whare you would do with the water?.
As you can see from the picture it wants to go that way so give it a little help and save people's homes