Academy site not at risk of flooding

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ENGINEERS commissioned by Aberdeenshire Council have stated that the Ellon Academy site at Cromleybank is not at serious risk of flooding, the Times can confirm.

A report by engineering consultants Fairhurst indicated that the academy’s lowest point would still be significantly higher than the highest predicted level of the Ythan, and that a footbridge connecting the school with the town would also be safe.

The site, at Cromleybank in Ellon, is on a hillside south of the River Ythan. Proposals for the new school campus include a new footbridge across the river, to improve links with the town centre.

A computer model of the Ythan River was commissioned by Aberdeenshire Council in 2006, to provide an understanding of the flood risk in Ellon. The model was reviewed and updated in 2011, and in October of that year was used to predict flood levels in the river as it passes the school site.

The Flood Risk Assessment (FRA) shows that the lowest part of the planned school, which is the theatre, would be 11m above the highest predicted flood level, and that the lowest point of the underside of the footbridge would be at least 1.85m above a predicted 1-in-200-year flood.

As a result of the tests, engineers believe that the school and the footbridge are not at risk of being affected by a 1-in-200 year flood on the river.

Aberdeenshire Council’s Director of Infrastructure Services, Stephen Archer, welcomed the findings, and added that the local authority had confidence in the site.

He said: “The new Ellon Academy Community Campus will showcase the best of what Aberdeenshire has to offer in terms of both educational and community facilities. It is important that all aspects of the build, including environmental risk factors, have been properly assessed before any work begins on site.

“While the planning service has always had confidence that the right site had been chosen for the new facility, it is helpful to see analysis by independent experts.”

The Ythan burst its banks during severe weather on December 23 last year. Figures from the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) showed the peak flow of the river that night to be the second highest recorded in more than 70 years.

Analysis of historic data suggests that the December flood has a return period of between 40 and 50 years.

Data from the December flood was put into the FRA which revealed that the planned school would not have flooded during that period of extreme weather and extreme flows on the river.