The aim of the Water of Leith Flood Prevention Scheme is to provide a higher level of protection to homes and businesses that are at high risk of flooding. In April 2000 Edinburgh experienced its worst flooding in 80 years; three walls along the Water of Leith collapsed, at Stockbridge, Bonnington and Canonmills, while other badly affected areas included Roseburn and Murrayfield.
Work started a couple of months ago on the Stockbridge and Bonnington sections of the Water of Leith, where they initially removed a lot of trees and shrubs on the south side before importing huge boulders along the riverside. They’ve built – what I assume are – temporary ‘roads’ along the bank in order to transport equipment and materials for the project. This has resulted in the river now only being half its previous width – I don’t quite understand how a narrower riverbed will prevent flooding when we experience a prolonged period of heavy rain and the water levels rise – but what do I know?
It’s a shame to see the river become a building site, but the good news is that it doesn’t seem to have affected the resident wildlife too much. I still regularly see swans, herons, ducks and the blue flash of a kingfisher when I’m cycling or walking along the path.
I’m also pleased to hear that St Mark’s Park is now NOT going to be used to be a storage site for Lagan Construction, the flood defence works contractor. Initial plans had indicated that the upper flat section of St Mark’s was to be fenced off as their storage depot for heavy lifting equipment and materials.
This would have resulted in a huge area of the park being out of bounds to the public for over a year, since work is not due to be completed until summer of 2012.
However I learned from Fiona Devlin, Community Parks Officer (North Edinburgh) for the City Council that contractors’ depot is being situated at Stockbridge instead, thus leaving St Mark’s Park untouched.
There’s more information about the flood works on The Water of Leith Conservation Trust website
And if you have any questions about the works, a Freephone information line has been set up to provide the public with a direct link to the Water of Leith Team, the number is: 0333 20 20 121
The photos below show the flood works at Bonnington, the nearest exit is Connaught Pl on the red line just south of Victoria Park.