Shameful vandals rendered flood barrier ‘useless’

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Vandals who tampered with Oban’s new flood barrier next to the Black Lynn burn have been branded ‘shameful’.

A section of the interlocking barrier was removed leaving a big gap in the defence system and was spotted in the burn near Tesco.

‘That people would deliberately pull up a barrier put there for flood protection, and further risk the safety of homes, is shameful,’ said a spokesperson for Argyll and Bute Council.

The missing unit was reported to The Oban Times by a concerned reader who said the barrier was left ‘useless’.

The man, who did not want to be named, said the unit had been seen in the water further down the burn.

He also said the other remaining units had been ‘messed with’ and plugs meant to hold in ballast had been pulled out and vanished – he found one thrown on the path nearby.

‘Goodness knows where the others are. This barrier would be useless  if the waters rise. There’s a big gap in it and what’s left is too lightweight to hold anything back,’ he said.

Stickers on the units say they are to be filled with sand and water but they are all empty. The man also said he believed the units were the wrong way round and the flat side should be nearest the burn to give more resistance.

He also criticised the gaping height difference left between mounds of sandbags strategically placed as part of the defence line and the barrier.

However, the council  insisted the barrier was installed as it should be.

‘Alternate units in the barrier are filled with water, which was done. The others are left empty so that if flood water rises, it will fill the empty units. This is an ongoing piece of work to help support residents until such time as the results of Oban Flood Study, part of our Local Flood Risk Management Plan, offers suggestions for more permanent ways of improving future flood situations,’ said the council spokesperson.

Oban councillor Jim Lynch said whoever removed the barrier unit was ‘irresponsible’.

He said: ‘It’s irresponsible for someone to remove something that was specifically put in place to protect people, safeguarding them and their property.

‘I will speak to the relevant council department to get assurance that the barrier is fitted properly. I’m not in a position to comment whether it was set up  correctly in the first place or not.’

When The Oban Times checked the barrier on Tuesday, all of the units were found to be empty of water, including the ones which still had plugs in.

After contacting the council, a later statement said: ‘We went above and beyond the duty of a council to install this flood control measure. The barrier was checked today and there is water in the appropriate units. The missing unit was also replaced.’

Although the missing unit was replaced and more sandbags were added at either end of the barrier, the units still appeared to have no water in them.