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Hebrides News


Cutting a 250 metre-long opening in the causeway with a bridge running over the open channel would let the sea flow through to the other side, reducing the height of the wall of water during the storm, highlighted a council study.

The Crown Office has apologised for the “unacceptable” delay in making a decision over holding a fatal accident inquiry.

It said the cause of the deaths - and recommendations to avoid a repeat of the tragedy - was pinpointed by the study.

A spokesman said: “Crown counsel, having given careful consideration to all relevant matters, including the recommendations of the South Ford Hydrodynamic Study and taking into account local feeling, have decided that there is no requirement to hold a fatal accident inquiry into the deaths.

In a statement, Iochdar Community Council, said: “In the meantime, Comhairle nan Eilean Siar has had nearly 12 years to action interim measures, including four years since the report was released.”

The community council questions why the comhairle is pushing other options that are a “temporary fix at best and, at worst, a waste of funding?”

“The only fitting memorial to those who lost their lives in January 2005 is the construction of the recommended bridge section in the South Ford Causeway.

“Anything else is just ineffectual and an avoidance of responsibility.”

The comhairle stressed it is about to go out to tender for survey work to be carried out at the South Ford causeway as part of a feasibility study looking at the possibility of creating an additional larger opening in the causeway.

Estimated costs for an opening are between £10 million and £20 million.

Since 2005, some £16.6m has been spent by the Comhairle and Scottish Government on repairs and betterment works arising from damage caused by the storm, said the council.

A comhairle spokesman said: “The comhairle has lobbied the Scottish Government for additional funding for the larger causeway opening but so far we have received no commitment.

“It is important that the comhairle continues to work together with the local community and parliamentary representatives to provide the best chance of securing funding from the Scottish Government on the basis that it is an exceptional needs case.”

To date work has been carried out on escape routes and township road improvements, coastal protection schemes and assorted roadworks.

In line with one of the key recommendations in the study, the council will reinstate and strengthen Gualan Island as well as the sand dune management and flood embankment schemes to the coastline adjacent to Sgoil Lionacleit.


Comhairle slammed over flood causeway  

22 January 2017

The comhairle has been criticised of failing to provide adequate flood measures to prevent a repeat of a tragedy which claimed the lives of five members of one family.

Twelve years ago this month the South Ford causeway acted as a dam in a violent storm, preventing a surge of sea water from escaping.

Archie and Murdina Macpherson perished with their two young children Hannah, 5, and seven-year-old Andrew, as well as Murdina's father, Calum Campbell, when they were overwhelmed by floodwater at Clachan in South Uist in January 2005.

Along the tidal estuary the sea heaped upwards, invading villages at Iochdar.