An exercise has been held to test how Inverness would respond to a avoid a devastating flood in the city centre.
Flood gates along the River Ness were closed yesterday during the simulation of the city’s response to a serious incident.
It follows a week long exercise involving Highland Council and the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (Sepa).
The exercise kicked off on Monday with Sepa staff phoning their local authority counterparts to warn of a serious weather event, based on a real storm surge from a few years ago.
The rehearsal was the first time since the flood walls were completed last year that all of the 12 gates along the riverside had been closed at one time.
The closures included briefly shutting the Greig Street footbridge, leaving bemused pedestrians being diverted despite the river being relatively low.
Highland Council’s head of infrastructure Colin Howell said he understood their frustration, adding: “I think if we closed it in earnest people would realise the situation and understand.”
He said: “The idea is that the flood gates would be closed, the flood event would then pass because it is effectively a tidal event and then as soon as that has gone the barriers would be taken away again.
“It has been extremely worthwhile. We’ve really enjoyed working with Sepa and they’ve challenged themselves as well.
“They looked at it and said ‘if we have this weather event what would we do?’
“Because it’s all about probability and risk and hopefully this has been very informative.”
Sepa’s head of hydrology Richard Brown said the exercise had been successful.
He encouraged residents to use the agency’s Floodline service which provides early warnings of any potential serious events.
He said: “There’s a well documented history of flooding on the River Ness, way back to 1849 when there was a really big flood and an old stone bridge got washed away.
“Right into more modern times in 1989 the railway bridge got washed away and going away back into history to the 1300s and 1400s when there is documentation of bridges getting washed away.
“Certainly it’s something we don’t want to happen but it is going to happen from time to time we can be pretty sure and with climate change the trends are pointing upwards.
“So it’s best to be as prepared as possible.”