Frequently Asked Question

Below you will find the answers to some of the questions which the Project Team is often asked about the Scheme:

Why is the gravel island at Bridge Street footbridge not being removed?

There are three main reasons why the gravel island is not being removed as part the Scheme:

* The primary reason is that the presence of the island has almost zero effect on water levels when the river is experiencing a significant high flow event. Consequently, the island has almost zero effect on flood risk.

Through Selkirk, the Ettrick Water channel from the river bed up to the top of the river banks (or the top of the new flood walls and embankments where these have been built) is capable of holding an absolutely enormous volume of water. The space taken up by the gravel island is tiny when compared to the total space available within that river channel.

Imagine a bath tub filled almost to the brim. Now imagine that you drop a bar of soap into the bath – would the bath overflow? Almost certainly not. The bar of soap would have almost no effect on the water level as the space required by the soap is tiny compared to the total volume of the bath tub.

The same is true for the gravel island, just on a much bigger scale. The island displaces a very small volume of water compared to the space within the river channel and as such it has a negligible effect on water levels in the channel. It therefore does not contribute to the flood risk through Selkirk and as such the Scheme cannot remove it.

* The second reason is that the Ettrick Water transports a huge amount of gravel. If the existing island was removed it is highly likely that in the coming years a new island would form. It would be unsustainable and extremely expensive to repeatedly remove such a build-up of gravel on a continual basis.

* Thirdly, the island is part of both the river system and local eco-system and is a relatively stable environment in its own right. It therefore provides ideal habitat for wildlife. That said, major flow events like those experienced in December 2015 and January 2016 (caused by Storms Desmond and Frank) are capable of reshaping the river environment. This has been particularly evident in recent months: the gravel island has been naturally reshaped and is now approximately half the size it was before the winter storms with much of the gravel now forming a significant gravel bank immediately downstream of Bridge Street footbridge. This reshaping highlights the effective futility of trying to predict what the river wants and in trying to control flood risk by simply removing gravel deposits from a river system. It is noted, however, that in some locations such gravel removal might be the correct solution depending on type of river and local ground conditions – indeed, some flood protection schemes in Scotland have involved large scale gravel removal as part of wider flood risk management strategies.

What is happening at the triangular field at the A707 & A708?

The activity at this field can be split into two categories:

The work in the southern third of the field (that nearest the rugby club) is Work Sections 28, 29 and 30 of the Scheme. Essentially, we are constructing two embankments (WS-29 and WS-30) and diverting the Long Philip Burn from its current artificially straightened channel into a new meandering channel between the two embankments (WS-28). This new environment will form part of a new area of park land extending all the way from Bridge Street footbridge to the sediment ponds immediately north of Corby Linn Road. This will mean a continuous footpath from Bridge Street footbridge to the Three Brethren. The landscape plans for the new area of park land are currently being finalised and will available in our Public Information Room for review and comment.

The northern two thirds of the field are being used as temporary site compound for essential material storage and processing. The Scheme has been designed such that it can be constructed in an environmentally responsible and sustainable manner – as such the aim is to reuse as much of the material excavated from the site within the Scheme. This section of the field will be returned to it's pre-works state towards the end of 2016 and handed back to the landowner.

A lot of trees were cut down to allow the flood walls and embankments to be built. Will a similar number of trees be replanted and where will they be replanted?

Approximately 2750 trees were felled in advance of the main construction work starting (note: a tree is any vegetation with a main ‘trunk’ with a diameter greater that 75mm). The number of truly valuable / mature trees that were felled were only in the 10’s and this was only undertaken when the Project Team was sure of the need to remove the tree and after due discussion with the relevant stakeholders.

The site clearance work was carefully planned during 2013 and 2014 with the Project Team undertaking several site walk-overs to assess which trees it would be necessary to fell. During these walk-overs, the Project Team had to make a judgement as to whether or not it would be possible to safely construct the Scheme without removing any given tree. Where the answer to this question was ‘no’ the tree was marked and later felled; where the answer was ‘yes’ the tree was left; where it was unclear, the tree was left subject to a final determination during the main construction work. Every single tree which was felled was individually considered and as such we are confident that, for the most part, only those trees which absolutely had to be removed were felled.

The clearance work was undertaken during the second half of 2014 such that the site could be handed to the Main Contractor in a condition which allowed construction activities to start as soon as possible. Now that the main construction work is well underway, it is clear that by the very nature of constructing a flood protection scheme, vast corridors of land are required and it should now be easier to see why particular trees had to be felled. It is important to remember that during construction work, the contractor needs space to work in, as well as space to construct on.

It is worth noting that in some areas where the Main Works are due to take place in late 2015 or during 2016, some limited tree felling work remains unfinished and will be undertaken during the coming autumn.

During reinstatement works, the Scheme will be planting at least two trees for every one that had to be felled. Landscaping plans are currently being finalised.

Why is the wall at Riverside so high?

At its maximum, the Flood Defence Wall in Riverside (WS-16 and WS-17) will be approx. 2 metres high. This is because the local topography forces water into this area during exceptionally high flow events on the river – during the 1977 flood significant parts of Riverside were inundated to such an extent that cars are reported to have been floating about.

The Riverside defences are designed to protect against a 1 in 500 years (plus climate change) flood event - this is the highest level of protection afforded by any publically funded flood protection scheme in the United Kingdom and will mean that the area will be removed from the national flood risk register. This in turn, should encourage future investment in the area.

It is also worth remembering that the area is still a construction site and minimal reinstatement work has been done – as such some of the structure currently visible will be buried and the grass and trees will be replanted and the area will soon return to ‘normality’ after what is a major civil engineering project.

How will the Scheme affect this year's Common Riding?

**UPDATE: The Common Riding cavalcade safely passed through the Scheme at Work Section 15 utilising a temporary corridor which RJ McLeod had constructed. The Project Team was on hand to assist with stewarding in the Riverside area and no significant problems have been reported.**

The Project Team has long recognised the importance of the Common Riding and is committed to minimising the impact the main construction works have on the events. During the planning and design of the Scheme, the Project Team met with the Common Riding Executive a number of times to discuss plans in an effort to ensure that the Scheme would not have a significant impact on the Common Riding either during construction works or in the years to come. The project team, together with RJ McLeod, have continued to liaise closely with the Executive over the past few months and plans are in place to try and minimise any impacts.

Given the scale of the engineering works currently underway along Riverside (specifically Works Sections 13, 14 and 15) the Common Riding Executive have, in consultation with the project management team, taken the decision to alter the route the cavalcade takes. Instead of turning onto Riverside Road from South Bridge Street, riders will be diverted along Whinfield Road, Rogers Road and the Selkirk FPS temporary Riverside access road but will cross the Ettrick Water at the normal crossing point.

It should be noted that there will be very limited access to the crossing point for spectators and that anyone wishing to watch the crossing from the north of the river will need to use the main road bridge as both footbridges are currently closed.

Members of the project management team will be present on the 12th of June to answer any questions you may have.

How long will Bridge Street Footbridge be closed for?

The footbridge will be closed until late September 2015. The Project Team is conscious of the inconvenience caused by this closure and is committed to ensuring that the new footbridge is opened as early as possible.

The footbridge at St Mary's Mill is also currently closed to allow works in this area (Works Section 16 & 17) to progress.

In the meantime, the diversion is via the main road bridge.

How long will the main works take?

The main construction works are expected to continue until 23rd December 2016. RJ McLeod started preparing the Main Site Compound in February 2015 – the construction works will therefore last for approximately 23 months.

After RJ McLeod have completed the main works the project will continue with any snagging issues and some landscaping and reinstatement works may continue through the Spring of 2017.

Where can I get more information about the Scheme?

A Project Information Centre will open at the Main Site Compound on 11th March 2015 – this will be open during office hours throughout the main works and will have displays with information about the Scheme. Members of the Project Team will be available to answer any questions you might have. You can also contact a member of the Project Team directly – contact details are on the Feedback page of this website.

Who are RJ McLeod, CH2M HILL and CPE Consultancy?

RJ McLeod is a Glasgow based civil engineering firm who won the contract to construct the Scheme.

CH2M HILL is a Colorado headquartered multi-disciplinary engineering consultancy who have designed the Scheme. CH2M HILL will also supervise the construction of the Scheme.

CPE Consultancy is an Edinburgh based engineering and project management firm with responsibility for managing the design and construction of the Scheme.

Will all the temporary roads be removed when the Scheme is finished?

Yes, the current plan is that all temporary roads or access tracks constructed to facilitate the construction of the Scheme will be removed on completion of the works.

Where will the satellite compounds be?

RJ McLeod is currently reviewing the requirement for satellite compounds. At the moment it is anticipated that compounds will be required at Old Mill Farm, on Ettrickhaugh Road and at Angle’s Field.