GROUND investigation works began on Monday to assess the ground and groundwater levels as part of the Musselburgh Flood Protection Scheme.

Contractors Raeburn Drilling will carry out the work, which involves 15 boreholes and five trial pits alongside both the River Esk and Pinkie Burn, on behalf of the project team.

The works are to take place over nine weeks and are expected to be completed before Christmas.

Councillor Norman Hampshire, council cabinet member for environment, said: “The Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) carried out country-wide flood risk management strategies which both described current flood risk and identified specific actions that will reduce risk.

“East Lothian Council is developing this scheme because the town of Musselburgh is at significant risk of flooding, and protecting it is considered both a national and council priority.

“The actual scheme will be developed over the coming years through a consultative process with key stakeholders and the town of Musselburgh.”

Conor Price, the scheme’s project manager, added: “The project team is systematically establishing contact with stakeholders, businesses and the people of Musselburgh.

“Over the next period we will ramp up this effort and obviously with ground investigation works being visible, people will become aware of us.

“We will have a stall at the council’s Resilient Communities Workshop at The Brunton on Saturday, October 27. Please come along and see us between 9.30am and 1.30pm if you would like more information.”

Two teams are carrying out the works, with one working on boreholes within the grounds of Pinkie St Peter’s Primary School and the second working on boreholes and trial pits at the mouth of the Esk.

They will then work their way up the river, where locations have been strategically chosen to maximise the potential for valuable information to be gathered while minimising the potential for impact on the town.

Musselburgh has a history of damaging floods from the Esk, although the last major flood and inundation of High Street was in 1948. However, in recent years the combination of rising sea levels and changing weather patterns has suggested a possible higher incidence of flooding events in the future.

In addition, parts of the Pinkie area have also experienced problems associated with groundwater levels.

Last December, the council engaged Jacobs as the new design consultants and tasked them with developing a scheme for Musselburgh.

Since then the project team has been preparing an approach to delivering this project and collecting survey information. To date, the first phases of the topographic survey works and ecological surveys have been completed.

The next phase of the topographic survey will involve the surveyors determining the ‘threshold’ levels for properties within the flood plain. In essence, this is the level at which water begins to enter a house.

This survey will also begin in the coming weeks and the surveyors will be visiting households as part of the survey and general awareness-building of the scheme.

The project team is currently building a new computer-based hydraulic model which will confirm the actual flood risk to the town. Once this is complete, the team will develop the best combination of flood risk reduction measures to protect the town.

The result of the hydraulic modelling will be available to local residents at a public exhibition next spring.