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Moray Council announces new drainage solution to recurrent flooding at Clovenside Cemetery, Forres

By Garry McCartney

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An artist's impression of the proposed works.
An artist's impression of the proposed works.

MORAY Council has announced that a Forres graveyard that often suffers from flooding is to receive around £56,000 worth of drainage improvements.

Last October, during the winter and following the flash flood of last month, Clovenside Cemetery between Forbeshill and Cluny Hill experienced flooding due to intensive rainfall and deterioration of the existing soakaway drainage system.

However, Moray Council open spaces manager, James Hunter, has now confirmed that new drainage works, known as a rain garden, will go ahead, resembling a small dip planted with meadow grasses and native shrubs.

He said: "Implementing a new drainage solution at Clovenside is challenging due to the gradient of the cemetery and potential impact on existing graves.

"What we have agreed on is the most appropriate for the expanse of area and the least disruptive option. Contractors are expected to be on site by mid-September with work estimated to take three to four weeks. The bit that will take the longest will be the excavation and removal of over 100 tonnes of soil and broken bricks that make up the current soakaway."

The dip will capture any rain water run-off to allow it to drain into the soil below. The soil beneath will have high sand content with a deep layer of stone under that to maximise the drainage.

Trees already removed from the lowest point in the cemetery to allow for works will be replaced around the perimeter.

Mr Hunter added: "Throughout the excavation and rain garden development we will minimise any disturbance, by installing screenings, and work will pause when any burials take place. For contractors to gain access entry gates will be removed and replaced on completion of the works."

The local authority started investigating solutions in January before announcing it had started designing a solution in March.

Local councillor Aaron McLean (SNP) said: "I'm glad to see that replacement works to the soakaway are going ahead. Flooding is very distressing for families and I am hopeful that this scheme will solve the issues."

Fellow Forres councillor George Alexander believes the long established problem will not be easy to resolve.

He said: "I am pleased to hear that a solution may have been found but the rainfall we experienced on July 27 could well overwhelm any drainage system.

"Hopefully this proposed solution will mean that any flooding which may still occur in future exceptional circumstances will drain away more quickly."

Richard Lochhead MSP also welcomed the plans having been contacted by constituents who found the flooding distressing.

He said: "I’m really pleased that a solution has been identified and works to improve the drainage are set to get under way.

"This investment will be welcomed by the families affected."

Also commenting after receiving the update from Moray Council, Douglas Ross MP added: "Many local people were upset and concerned by the ongoing flooding issues at the cemetery during prolonged spells of rain. Just last week downpours led to more graves being underwater. I am hopeful that a permanent solution has been found and look forward to the works being completed."

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