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Burst pipe turned Moray holiday park into a crater, owner wins £70k payout from Scottish Water

Burnside Caravan Park owner Gordon Christie in 2009 next to the pipe responsible for the damage.
Burnside Caravan Park owner Gordon Christie in 2009 next to the pipe responsible for the damage.

A Speyside holiday park has won a £70,000 compensation pay-out after a six-year battle over a burst pipe which turned part of its site into “a crater”.

A judge blamed Scottish Water maintenance failings for the disaster at the Burnside Caravan Park at Fochabers – which was swamped when a torrent rushed through it.

One holiday home was left perilously close to the edge of a newly-formed gorge.

Mud protecting a high-pressure water pipe was washed away by a swollen burn in the village and a joint split.

At the Court of Session in Edinburgh yesterday judge Lord Clark found negligent designs and repairs were to blame.

Last night, caravan park owner Gordon Christie said he was delighted “justice” had finally been done in the long-running battle.

He said: “It’s a relief it’s at a conclusion now. It’s been a long, drawn out and costly process. We originally repaired all the work ourselves, which cost about £120,000.

“If Scottish Water had come in with us then we could have done the whole job for less than £60,000. They’ve eventually come in and fixed the pipe, which has cost them over £400,000.

“This has all come at the cost of taxpayers’ money, which is an absolute disgrace. I had no choice but to go to court.”

Mr Christie originally sued to cover all of his £120,000 repair bill but described yesterday’s ruling as an “excellent result”.

After the pipe burst on September 4, 2009 the bed of the Burn of Fochabers was washed away with banks also claimed by the torrent.

Mr Christie added: “We were left with a great massive hole, like a crater, where the joint actually split. The banks were washed away and a caravan threatened to fall into the burn.

“There was other damage caused to the bridge at the caravan park too and further down the burn.”

Expert evidence from a civil engineer in the court battle said the damage would have been avoided if protective steps, including gabion cages, had been installed.

Following the flood contractors paid for by Mr Christie spent four weeks repairing the caravan park and fitted rock armour around the pipe.

Dozens of homes were affected after water poured over the banks of the burn in September 2009 following heavy rain.

But in his judgment Lord Clark concluded the damage caused at the caravan park was made worse by Scottish Water failing to take preventative steps.

He said: “The defender’s breach of duty also resulted in the failure of the water pipe, which contributed to the damage.

“The damage was therefore not caused by natural causes or other factors unrelated to the pipe crossing.”

Lord Clark concluded that not all of the costs could be put down to Scottish Water’s failings but ordered the £70,000 compensation payment to cover fencing and electrical repairs, work to reinstate the ground and management time.

Proceedings in the case were held up after the previous judge Lord Jones died.

There could now be another court battle between Scottish Water and Mr Christie over legal expenses to cover the six-year saga.

A Scottish Water spokesman said: “This matter relates to a water main which was damaged during extreme weather in 2009 and subsequently reinstated. We are aware of today’s judgment and are considering our position.”

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