Highlands and Islands Labour MSP, David Stewart, is welcoming the news that Comhairle nan Eilean Siar (CnES) is, this week, going out to tender for survey work to be carried out at the South Ford Causeway in South Uist as part of a feasibility study to consider the possibility of creating an additional larger opening in the causeway. The feasibility study was funded by CnES and Storas Uibhist.
Five members of the same family were tragically killed on the causeway during the 2005 storm when their cars were swept from the road into the sea. In October last year Crown Council decided that there should not be a Fatal Accident Inquiry in relation to the deaths prompting an angry response at the length of time the community has been left in limbo and the time taken to have required works carried out.
Creating a larger opening in the causeway was one of a number of options suggested by the feasibility study which could further reduce the likelihood of flooding in the area. The cost of creating the larger opening in the causeway is unknown but estimates range from £10m to £20m. Residents in South Uist believe this is the only solution which will address the matter to prevent another similar tragedy from occurring.
Mr Stewart met with Iochdar Community Council last year to discuss the matter. Members of the Community Council and local Councillor, Donnie Steele, last week again voiced their anger and frustration with the lack of progress in installing anti-flood measures in the causeway.
David Stewart said “Last summer I asked the Cabinet Secretary responsible for flood prevention, Roseanna Cunningham, to meet with representatives of the South Uist community to hear their concerns and to discuss flood prevention measures required on the causeway with a view to committing Scottish Government funds for these works. The response I received was that it was the responsibility of CnES to explore the options identified in the Hydrodynamics Study and if they decide that part of the causeway should be replaced then it will be for them to consider how best to take that forward.
Mr Stewart continued “I met with the Leader of CnES again last month and have contacted him again this week asking what progress is being made on this. I am advised today that CnES is, this week, going out to tender for survey work to be carried out at the causeway to consider the possibility of creating an additional larger opening in the causeway.
Mr Stewart continued “This has to be welcome news. The CnES has also asked Scottish Government to support additional funding for this project but so far no commitment has been received. Given the unacceptably long period of time the community has been left in limbo following this tragedy, I am writing to the Scottish Government again to ask if the Cabinet Secretary will meet with the community and commit funding for the works as an exceptional needs case.”
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