Musselburgh flood maps published by East Lothian Council

Musselburgh flood maps published by East Lothian Council

East Lothian Council has published flood maps for Musselburgh.

In May 2016, the East Lothian Council Cabinet approved the Local Flood Risk Management Plan (LFRMP) for the Forth Estuary Local Plan District and confirmed a flood protection scheme for Musselburgh. Work has progressed to advance the flood protection scheme and in January 2020, the council’s Cabinet approved the preferred approach to reducing the flood risk through the £42 million ‘Preferred Scheme’.

The town of Musselburgh has a very significant flood risk. Large areas of the town, including its High Street, are at risk of flooding from separate flood events from both the River Esk and from the Firth of Forth.

This risk from the River Esk is not new and the town has a history of flooding – the most notable events being in 1891, 1927 and 1948. The flood event of August 1948 is the largest on record and is estimated to have been a ‘1 in 200 Years Flood Event’, by today’s standards.

The risk of flooding from the sea is also not new and events as frequent as a spring tide combined with a storm surge have the ability to inundate the river’s flood plains around the mouth of the River Esk estuary as the sea backs up the river.

The risk of flooding from the sea will however be substantially increased due to the impact of climate change raising sea levels.

Around 2,500 properties are at risk of the major flood event (the design flood event) that the flood protection scheme is working to protect against. This includes: the whole of the High Street and the Eskmills Business Park area; the Musselburgh Racecourse; Fisherrow Harbour; significant parts of Loretto School and its grounds; the A199; the town’s two road bridges and all of its footbridges; along with residential properties and businesses.

The Project Team will now commence a detailed Land Referencing activity to fully understand the scale of the social and property impact of this flood risk.

The council has been developing computer models of these flood risks since early 2018 to define the flood risk to Musselburgh. This work has been advanced by Jacobs, which is the Scheme’s Design Consultant, on behalf of the council and working closely with SEPA, which is responsible for the development and publication of national flood risk maps in Scotland under the Flood Risk Management (Scotland) Act 2009.

In July 2019, the council held a major Public Exhibition at The Brunton and presented draft flood maps and the options through which a flood protection scheme could reduce/mitigate that flood risk through a flood protection scheme.

This week, the council confirmed that the development of the flood model is now complete, and is publishing the flood maps derived from that flood model. The flood maps can be viewed on Scheme’s website and the Project Team will also present the maps and a 2D animation of the flood events during its upcoming consultation events at The Brunton on February 8 and 9.

Both events will start from 6pm and more information on the events can be viewed on the Scheme’s website.

Conor Price, project manager, said: “The process of the development of the flood models has been complex and challenging – during the period of development: the new UK Climate (change) Projections (UKCP18) were published in December 2018; SEPA experienced a major cyber-attack; and the COVID-19 Pandemic occurred.

“The team would ideally have completed and published these flood maps at an earlier stage, however it is highlighted that the flood risk identified by them is very closely aligned with the flood risk defined by the first draft flood maps presented by the Scheme in summer 2019 and in parallel with the flood maps published by SEPA and available online via their website. The new flood maps developed by the Scheme are considered to be the most accurate flood maps yet developed for the town of Musselburgh.”

“With a clear understanding of the flood risk to Musselburgh, the Project Team will now continue the development of a flood protection scheme to reduce that flood risk and thereby provide a high level of flood protection to the town and thereby the people and businesses who live and work there.”

Norman Hampshire, council leader, added: “East Lothian Council recognises it is essential to advance a flood protection scheme to reduce the flood risk to Musselburgh. The scale of the flood risk, and the impact that a major flood would have on the town and its people is almost impossible to imagine. Provision of flood protection will require a major civil engineering project and significant levels of capital funding. The council are therefore comforted that the Musselburgh Flood Protection Scheme is one of the Scottish Government’s priority schemes for delivery.

“The Project Team who are advancing the Scheme are now in the final stages of preparing to commence actual design of flood risk reduction options. Since September 2021 they have been undertaking a process of consultation with key stakeholders and the people of Musselburgh to identify possible risks, issues, opportunities, and local thoughts before the actual design starts. The completion of the definition of the flood risk is another major achievement, and one that was critical to complete before the design of any new flood defences could commence.”

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