A flooding expert fears Garmouth may be nearing a “crisis point” as residents continue to battle to save their homes.
Water from the River Spey has poured through the stricken Moray village 11 times since October – including four times within one traumatic February week.
The constant worry has led to homeowners working through the night with pumps and sandbags while some have bags packed in case they need to flee.
‘It’s effectively crisis point for flooding now’
Geomorphologist Hamish Moir, managing director of Inverness-based cbec Eco Engineering, has been studying flooding concerns near Garmouth for 18 months and believes a “crisis point” may be nearing.
He said: “I was contacted by the angling club about concerns with the way the river was changing, but it quickly became apparent there were bigger issues.
“It’s flooding, but the issues is not so much that. It’s the fact that the river is changing its course and doing so in a way that is presenting a risk to property and infrastructure, particularly in Garmouth.
“This section has always been nomadic, it’s just the way the river is.
“You can’t force it to move, that will just make it worse, but there are things you can do to encourage it to move.
“If we had a really big flood event like Storm Frank in 2015, it would cause a massive problem.
“It’s effectively crisis point now for Ross House, as the corner of the house is now the bank of the river.
“But the golf course, sewage works and infrastructure and property in Garmouth could all be at risk.”
Garmouth farmer fears flooding have made fields useless
Floods in recent months have toppled large trees to the ground on the banks of the River Spey.
It is understood that erosion has led to fields flooding at lower water levels, causing water to pour over fields more often – and remain there for longer.
Mr Moir has suggested that identifying locations to deposit gravel and fallen trees may help to steer the water away from Garmouth.
Farmer Angus Fettes has three fields on the banks of the Spey and believes they have been rendered useless by the repeated floods.
He said: “There’s no chance I’ll get anything out of them this year and I wouldn’t risk animals there at the moment either.
“Garmouth has always flooded, it always will, but the big problem has come from the erosion because there’s been no bank maintenance.
“We’re not looking for a 20ft wall to be built, just for it to be properly maintained.”
Moray Council has commissioned a study to examine the recent changes to the River Spey in the Garmouth area.
A spokesman for Crown Estate Scotland said: “The management of flood defence provision on this section of the River Spey lies with the local authority and not with Crown Estate Scotland.
“We have been happy to voluntarily contribute funding towards efforts to mitigate the erosion which has been taking place in this area.
“We have also worked extensively with Moray Council, Nature Scot and Sepa to see how we can contribute to the management of the river and stand ready to work with others as they work to resolve the situation.”