A SCOTTISH council's ruling Conservative administration has been unexpectedly defeated – and reminded: "We’re now in a climate emergency."

Dumfries and Galloway Council’s ruling Tory group had attempted to ditch the Whitesands flood protection scheme, despite the Scottish Government saying it would fund 80 per cent of the cost.

However, Lochar councillor Linda Dorward made a strong case to save the scheme at Wednesday’s full council meeting, which received the backing of several independent councillors and swung the vote 22-21 in her favour.

Dorward said: “We’re now in a climate emergency. I appreciate that the Tories don’t share this perspective – as they have shifted goalposts here by some years.

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“But the Labour Group are not prepared to do this when it comes to defending the town of Dumfries from flooding.

“It’s a matter of fact that the Scottish Government wrote to Dumfries and Galloway Council in March 2020 to advise them of the decision to confirm Whitesands’ flood protection scheme without modification and to grant deemed planning permission.

“They also clarified that the scheme will be 80 per cent funded. But this funding is time-limited and to ensure it, we need to inform Scottish Government of a positive decision today.”

She continued: “Never again will we have such an opportunity to invest so much at one time in our town.

“We all know that, if we don’t progress this confirmed scheme, we will leave Dumfries without any flood protection for the foreseeable future.

“In essence, we use it or we lose it.”

The Whitesands is one of the most regularly flooded urban areas in Scotland, Dorward argued. It has been reported that there have been 205 incidents since 1827 – the worst being last year on December 30.

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Conservative Councillor Ivor Hyslop, who also represents the Lochar ward, said: “Last week the Audit Commission came out and said that the Scottish Government has insufficient funds to cover all of its capital programmes.

“We’ve seen numerous flood schemes across Scotland not just double in price, but one I think went 10 times the cost.

“There is no money to do this job, and I think later this year the Scottish Government will have to come to terms with this.”

Council leader Gail Macgregor added that she wasn’t convinced either that the funding for the flood protection scheme would be made available by the Scottish Government in next year’s budget.

A report on the matter, tabled at the full council meeting, stated that the current estimated total project cost is £37m, which is £12m above the current approved budget.

Provided that the Scottish Government confirm 80 per cent ongoing funding support, the council would need to allocate the remaining 20 per cent of the increase (£2.4m) within its capital investment strategy.