A full-scale mock-up of a flood wall is being built on a Highland shore to show local residents the height of planned sea defences which could stop their homes from being swamped.
The structure between Caol and the northern shore of Loch Linnhe in Lochaber forms part of the latest stage of Highland Council’s consultation on the £6.2million River Lochy and Caol flood protection scheme.
The local authority is also holding a public exhibition to update locals on the project at Kilmallie Free Church in Caol on Wednesday from 3pm-5pm and 6pm-8pm, at which the latest design drawings and video simulation will be shown.
Caol is at risk of flooding from the River Lochy and Loch Linnhe.
The village last suffered serious flooding in 2005, when water levels reached 13.2ft.
Consultants appointed by the council to undertake flood mapping and help prepare the design for the scheme found the level of flooding experienced 11 years ago was likely to happen once every two decades.
And there are estimated to be approximately 300 properties at risk of a more severe one-in-200-year flood, of which 23 are commercial or public buildings, including Caol Primary School and Kilmallie Free Church.
Caol and Mallaig councillor Ben Thompson said: “The events of this last winter on the east coast, around the River Dee and Aberdeen, and in Cumbria show how important it is that we get flood defences built so I’m delighted to see this one going ahead.
“It will hopefully sort some of the risks we have at the moment.
“We don’t have flooding here often but, when it does happen, it could be catastrophic.”
He said the most worrying scenario would be if a big snow melt coincided with a high spring tide and a ferocious south-westerly storm, with strong winds and lots of rain.
Councillor Thompson said: “I’m hoping people will come to the presentation because there are still a number of design points that need to be ironed out, such as the best places for community access points to the beach.
“The wall will be made of pre-cast concrete so we could have it made to look like a stone wall. Engineers will be able to tell locals about the options and listen to their views.
“And the mock wall will show people how tall it will be.”
The councillor pointed out that flood defences do not go through the planning process so this was the only opportunity for local residents to have their say on the proposals.