It will take at least five years for Fife Council is to replace an inadequate bridge that contributed to traumatic flooding and left householders counting the cost, it has been warned.
The Den Burn Bridge, in Cardenden, could not cope with the deluge of water flowing underneath it during Storm Francis in August and was ruled a significant factor in the drama that saw homes swamped by several feet of water.
The bridge, which carries the B981 over the Den Burn, had been earmarked for strengthening works but was a low priority for the local authority.
This plan has now been scrapped in favour of a £2 million replacement in the wake of the problems suffered by residents but it will not be finished until financial year 2025-26, due to budget constraints.
It comes after a a recent flood study confirmed not enough water was able to flow under the bridge.
The move has been welcomed by Mid Scotland and Fife Labour MSP Alex Rowley, who had previously called for action to reduce the risks to people living in Cardenden.
He pointed out, however, that residents faced a further six years of potential misery due to the timescales imposed.
He has urged the council to apply to for Scottish Government funding to complete the works sooner.
“This would allow the council to also focus on some of the other worst cases of flooding in Fife and it would also bring the bridge replacement forward,” he said.
“Whilst I am sure the people of Cardenden will welcome the initiative from the council, it still means they have six years or more to go through the terrible fear every time heavy rain is forecast.”
Ken Gourlay, the council’s head of assets and transportation, said: “It would be considered inappropriate to strengthen the structure within its existing geometry and this will now be promoted as a bridge replacement project.
“Due to the level of investment required and to work within the available bridges budget allocation, this has been programmed between two financial years, 2024/25 and 2025/26.”
A recent study by environment watchdog Sepa found Cardenden and the surrounding area should be regarded as a future Potentially Vulnerable Area, with hazard maps revealing around 13 miles of land at risk of continual flooding.
It is estimated around 150 homes and 40 non-residential properties would be affected, with the annual cost of damage put at £580,000.
Mr Rowley has requested a meeting with Environment Minister Roseanna Cunningham to discuss the issue.
The Scottish Government has said it will invest an extra £150m for flood risk management on top of the £42m a year already given to local authorities.