Groundwork is under way for a multi-million-pound flood defences scheme on the Kinross-shire and Fife border.
Council bosses have struck a deal for a preliminary programme of surveys and investigations that could pave the way for a long-awaited plan to protect homes and businesses from a one-in-200 years flood.
Specialist firm Dunelm Geotechnical and Environmental, which undertook a similar exercise at the Millennium Bridge in London, has secured a £37,000 contract from Perth and Kinross Council.
The company has been tasked with carrying out a series of trial pits, boreholes and other tests in the south Kinross-shire area. The results will help shape the development of a flood protection scheme which was demanded after roads and properties were hit by rising waters in 1993.
According to SEPA’s Forth Estuary Local Plan, the South Kinross scheme will address flooding in the South Queich, Gelly Burn and Clash Burn areas.
It aims to protect residents from the type of freak event that devastated homes and businesses in Alyth in 2015, and could prevent estimated damages of £5.5 million.
Local Liberal Democrat councillor Willie Robertson said: “There has been ongoing flooding issues in the South Kinross-shire area, often with sewers surcharging and the South Queich bursting its banks.
“But I understand that most of the main problems have been alleviated, which is maybe why this isn’t as high a priority as some other schemes.
“A flood defence scheme at Milnathort has also helped a great deal,” he said.
Sepa’s report states: “Flood protection schemes can have both positive and negative impacts on the ecological quality of the environment, depending on how they are designed.
“The proposed flood protection works are located on the North Queich River. The physical condition of this river has been identified by Sepa to be at less-than-good status.”
The scheme, which is likely to include homes in Kinross, is at a very early stage and has been listed as number 28 in a list of 42 national priorities.
Sepa says “further feasibility assessment” is needed to shape the project and develop the fine details.
In October, councillors agreed to submit flood defences plans for Aberfeldy and Pitlochry for inclusion on a national list of flood risk areas.
They also want to see the towns included in the next Tay Flood Risk Management Strategy, due to be published in December next year.