Willie Rennie reveals river concerns as he reacts to Cupar and Strathmiglo Storm Gerrit flooding

North East Fife MSP Willie Rennie says a better understanding of how to manage the River Eden is needed after heartbreaking flooding in Cupar and Strathmiglo.

Storm Gerrit wreaked havoc on the Kingdom, bringing misery for many as their homes were swamped.

In Cupar residents were seen being rescued after the River Eden burst its banks, and in nearby Strathmiglo some homes were left under several inches of water.

Scottish Liberal Democrat MSP Willie Rennie said the frequency of severe weather events highlighted the need to better understand how to manage the flow of the river.

“I’ve been working with [the Scottish Environment Protection Agency] Sepa and the council to try and get a better understanding about things like dredging and steps we can take on the tributaries to hold the water back.”

North East Fife MSP Willie Rennie. Image: Fraser Bremner.

He added: “There’s no doubt climate change is a big factor here. The frequency and extent of it is much greater than most people can remember.

“We need to look at some of the things we can do to mitigate some of that.”

The MSP has arranged several meetings in the New Year with Sepa and local land owners to discuss dredging and river maintenance.

Drone footage from Cupar amid Storm Gerrit.
Drone footage from Cupar amid Storm Gerrit. Image: Bruce C Russell

The 30-mile long River Eden runs along Strathmiglo, Auchtermuchty, Cupar and Guardbridge before entering the North Sea through the Eden Estuary.

The river is tidal, with Mr Rennie saying he believed flooding had been made worse due to the heavy rain hitting at high tide.

He said it appeared this had meant the water was unable to flow back into the river.

Mr Rennie, who has worked on flooding in the area for several years, said he believed Fife Council, Sepa and the Scottish Government understood the urgency of the problem.

Disagreement about dredging

But he cautioned that not everyone fully understood whether there was a proper plan, something he wants clarity on.

He told The Courier: “I don’t know that everything that could be done is being done.

“There is a disagreement about dredging, with some people saying if you dredge like we used to all you do is displace the water further downstream, where it will flood.

“These long term plans don’t sound great for someone whose house has been flooded out, but I hope people understand that I and my colleagues are trying to get to a situation where we have an understanding that people can buy into.”

He added: “I’m not sure if I went to someone today to ask if the River Eden was free flowing from source to sea, I don’t think they could tell me that. And what we need is for it to be free flowing.”

Financial support needed for flooded Cupar residents ‘without hesitation’

Mr Rennie also called on the Scottish Government to ensure there is “no question” about financial support being made available to those who have been hit hardest.

“The sums of money available for people in Brechin should be made available to people in Cupar and the River Eden catchment.

“There shouldn’t be any hesitation. People have got enough distress as it is without any prevarication over the finance available to get them through the next stage.

“I’ve meet people who have been flooded out, and their life is torn apart. The water comes in really quickly, but it takes a long time for the dirt and smell to go.

“It hangs in the air for months on end, reminding people of the day their home was destroyed.”

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