New bid to tackle floods hitting Fife cemetery and residents’ homes

Generations of residents in Benarty have lived their lives around flooding that sweeps through their streets, houses, and most evocatively their cemetery. Now Fife Council is doing some remediation work in Ballingry to improve water flows and reduce incidents of flooding - but it said it won’t make unrealistic promises for a solution.
Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now

According to Councillor Lea McLelland (SNP for Lochgelly, Cardenden and Benarty), the sight of flooding at the Ballingry cemetery causes many local residents distress.

“It causes horrendous upset - it’s very distressing to come to the graveyard and see that,” she said. “There’s not one person in this village that is not emotionally attached to that graveyard or affected by this issue. It affects the whole community. The graveyard flooding is the most emotional part of it, but people’s homes and gardens are getting unnecessarily washed away as well.”

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

The challenge, Allan Paul, Fife’s head of property services said, is the water coming off the hills after a heavy rain: “It’s a whole system solution that is needed and it’s probably beyond the council,” he said.

Councillor Lea McLelland says locals were distressed when Ballingry Cemetery floods (Pics: Submitted)Councillor Lea McLelland says locals were distressed when Ballingry Cemetery floods (Pics: Submitted)
Councillor Lea McLelland says locals were distressed when Ballingry Cemetery floods (Pics: Submitted)

Mr Paul spoke about the Ballingry Cemetery flooding issues at the most recent Cowdenbeath area committee meeting during a bereavement services report.

“We are undertaking some work at the local primary school, St Kenneth's, that is focused on creating a culverted burn with a view to improve water flow through the area. The next piece of work is to look at the cemetery,” Mr Paul said.

The council team has agreed to look at improving the overall local drainage issues at the cemetery in addition to the ongoing work at the primary school. However, he emphasised that the water running off the hills must go somewhere. “If it’s not gathering at the school or pooling in the cemetery it’s then going downstream,” he said.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

The problem needs a broader drainage review to look at the whole area to understand water flow and capacity.

“At that point we can have a discussion with colleagues about how that work can be taken forward and addressed - possibly in conjunction with Scottish Water,” Mr Paul said. “It would be wrong if we promised a solution we can't deliver. We can try to improve on the local conditions and that’s the reassurance I'm able to offer.”

However, Cllr McLelland emphasised: “This has to be done sooner rather than later because every time it floods it erodes away a little bit the soil under the cemetery. What’s happening is the sand, gravel and dirt is getting washed away. At what point are we going to go down there and actually see somebody’s coffin? It would be harrowing.”

Despite the flooding issues, Cllr McLelland was full of praise for Fife’s bereavement services team.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“Although it’s not their issue they have always been really quick to respond and they appreciate how upsetting it must be for people,” she said.

Cllr McLelland acknowledged that the council is taking its first steps to fix the cemetery flooding, but she emphasised that she will continue advocating for change until the full drainage issues are addressed.She s aid there is a meeting later this month within the council to determine where the source of the water is coming from and what can be done to stop it.

Related topics: