Saturday, April 18, 2009

Forth Ports warned of climate change flood threat to docks

Andrew Picken in the Scotsman: Forth Ports has been warned to boost its flood defences amid fears its multi-million pound revamp of Leith Docks could end up being swamped by the sea. City planners are currently assessing the port owner's plans for the first two of nine "urban villages" featuring new homes, hotels and visitor centres.

But the city's transport and engineering department has raised concerns about flooding and the impact that rising sea levels, caused by climate change, will have on the £700 million development.

Officials have warned that an area of the port just north of Ocean Terminal, where development is planned over the next 20 years, could be flooded in the event of a major storm. But Forth Ports today dismissed the council's concerns, claiming they were based on "material inaccuracies".

The council has now recommended a number of conditions are put on the application if it is approved, including ensuring that the finished ground levels are a minimum of 5.5m above the average sea level. Officials also want all buildings removed from any potential storm flooding plains and a new agreement on the management of water levels in the Water of Leith and docks.

Alvin Barber, one of the council's top flood prevention experts, said: "There is uncertainty about the predicted extreme water levels, both at present and as a result of climate change. "The drawings submitted show flow paths in the event of a storm which exceeds the capacity of the drainage system, causing surcharge and overland flow….”

No 3 Dock at Methil, Fife, was authorised in 1907 and opened in 1913. It was given its own entrance off the Firth of Forth, with a channel 120 feet wide in which were lock gates 80 feet wide. Shot by A-M-Jervis, Wikimedia Commons, under Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 2.0 License

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