Selkirk cabinet meeting: Flood protection works begin
Environment Minister Paul Wheelhouse has marked the official start of works on a £31m flood prevention scheme in the Scottish Borders.
It will take almost 600 properties in Selkirk off the national risk register.
Speaking after the Scottish cabinet's meeting in the town, Mr Wheelhouse said he was delighted to see the work begin.
He said communities in the area knew about the "devastating effects" of flooding and the issue remained a Scottish government priority.
He added: "In particular this project, aside from protecting houses, will also protect the very important Ettrick riverside area which is home to many of Selkirk's established and new start businesses."
Conor Price, project manager of the scheme, said it was "vital" for the area.
It is expected to be completed by December 2016.
Scottish Borders Council leader David Parker said it was a "significant moment" for Selkirk.
"No-one from the town will forget the flooding which devastated Bannerfield in 2003, and significant effort has been put into the flood protection scheme to ensure Selkirk is protected from an event of this kind again," he said.
Earlier in the day a Borders housing association was awarded £800,000 by the Scottish government to buy land to build affordable homes.
First Minister Alex Salmond confirmed the support for Eildon Housing Association (EHA).
He said the investment would provide "much needed" housing and sustain jobs.
EHA chief Nile Istephan said the funding could help address the "high demand" for affordable homes.
Mr Salmond was speaking after viewing completed houses at Easter Langlee in Galashiels.
It was one of a range of ministerial visits in the region arranged around the cabinet meeting.
During their stay, the South of Scotland Alliance presented Finance Secretary John Swinney with a Rural Regional Economic Development Programme for the area.
It includes four key projects:
- Borders Railway/Central Borders Business Park
- Mountain biking - "refreshing a world-class product"
- Economic development strategy for the A74(M) corridor area
- Stranraer waterfront
The programme aims to bring "greater and more sustainable economic growth" to the south of Scotland and for the area to "play an increased role" in the Scottish economy.