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Cross-border stand-off over use of floods fund

Money

Scottish ministers have called on the UK Government to bid for European funds to help repair infrastructure damaged by floods north of the border.

Scottish infrastructure secretary Keith Brown wrote to UK environment secretary Liz Truss urging use of the European Union Solidarity Fund in the aftermath of recent winter storms.

Payments from the fund can be used to finance emergency operations carried out by public bodies to deal with non-insurable damage. A spokeswoman for the Scottish Government said a key focus of the call for cash was to pay for repair of bridges and roads.

But any application to the fund, which was established to respond to major natural disasters across the union, must come from a member state.

Brown said: “There can be no doubt that the impact of the flooding in parts of Scotland, particularly the North East, but also in the Borders, Perth and Dumfriesshire, has been devastating for those communities.

“We have heard horrendous stories of families forced to flee their homes and leave behind all their possessions, as well as businesses desperately trying to protect their premises and livelihoods. For many this will be like starting all over again.”

He said £16M had already been made available by Westminster and Holyrood to tackle the damage caused by the floods.

“But the recent weather events have been unprecedented – and so I have reminded the UK Government that we are part of a European community which can come to the aid of the clean-up operation,” said Brown.

“I will be monitoring the situation closely and keeping up the pressure to ensure every available help is forthcoming as those communities recover from those floods.”

A UK Government spokesman said: “Scotland Office minister Andrew Dunlop met Keith Brown on Friday [8 January] and has written to him [on Tuesday 12 January] about the EU Solidarity Fund.

“The UK Government has not ruled out making an application to the fund. However, the nature of the scheme means it would not provide financial support for the majority of homes or businesses, would take several months to receive and only provides a fraction of the actual costs from the damage.

“The Scottish Government has received Barnett consequentials of almost £4M already as a result of support given to assist areas affected by flooding caused by Storm Desmond. Further Barnett consequentials will be made available following the financial assistance being made available in England to areas affected by Storm Eva.” 

 

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