Brechin’s £16.3 million flood prevention scheme is officially complete and has been hailed as a protection measure “for generations to come”.
Scottish environment secretary Roseanna Cunningham led praise for the major project at a riverside unveiling alongside the South Esk, with local residents among the audience invited to mark completion of the long-awaited scheme.
The project, which got under way at the start of 2015, features flood walls and embankments, as well as upgrades to the existing surface water drainage system and the Denburn culvert, and the installation of three submerged pumping stations.
Ms Cunningham said: “Flooding can have devastating consequences for individuals, businesses and communities and that is why we are working with partners and investing in schemes to protect against flooding.
“The opening of this new scheme is good news for Brechin and will provide lasting protection against the sort of flooding that has struck the area in the past.”
A year into the project, River Street residents had to be evacuated from their homes after Storm Frank ravaged Angus and led to widespread flooding disruption.
The new defences are designed to provide a 1-in-200-years standard of defence and has been one of the biggest civil engineering projects ever undertaken in Angus.
Just over £13 million of the total project cost of £16.3 million came from the Scottish Government, with the remainder financed directly by Angus Council.
Morrison Construction carried out the project, with Angus Council chiefs saying the yet-to-be-finalised end costs have come in well within budget.
Angus communities committee vice-convener Councillor Jeanette Gaul said: “The length and scale of the project has been significant and greatly assisted by the support and patience of local residents and the wider public.
“With its completion comes increased safety and security for homes and businesses at times of severe weather.
“That is its primary task, but the project has also brought improvements to the local landscape and environment with it, as well as the stunning murals that have been created by the community.
“It is a project that I have great pride in and one that I am sure will serve the people of Brechin very well for generations to come.”
Jim Steele, of Morrison Construction, said: “These new defences will provide security for hundreds of homes and businesses and we are delighted that our work with Angus Council has delivered a scheme that will safeguard the town for many years to come.
“Partnership working has ensured that this scheme has been delivered within tight timescales and with minimum disruption to the community.”
Environmental enhancements include landscaped and grassed embankments, the installation of bird and bat boxes and upgrades to the play park facilities at the Inch.
Dozens of Brechin families and businesses have endured the misery wrought by Mother Nature at her most angry.
Even during construction work the ferocious power of the River South Esk in high spate was evident when Storm Frank struck at the turn of this year.
Trees and walls were brought down by floodwaters, but it is estimated that the partially-build defences saved up to 300 homes from being affected.
River Street resident Roger Seaman and his family have experienced the terror of watching the river rise across the road from their front door on numerous occasions since moving into the street 17 years ago.
“We have twice been flooded out and have probably had ten to fifteen close events,” said the father-of-two.
The family spent seven months and five months respectively in alternative accommodation after being forced from their home and Mr Seaman is pleased to see the end of the £16million project.
“It’s taken a while and there has been a bit of disruption but it has been worth it.
“We have the marker and would watch the water rise. We knew that when it was about 2.2 or 2.3 metres that it would be flood time and the last time it was 3.3m.
“There’s nothing you can do but watch the level going up – it’s Mother Nature, isn’t it?”