Scottish government chiefs approved four coastal protection schemes in the remote Western Isles and announced a £200,000 study into marine conditions around part of the islands.

Environment minister Michael Russell announced the measures at a public meeting on the island of South Uist – one of the islands that will benefit from the coastal protection schemes.

The improvements follow the death of family of five on the island in 2005 as they tried to escape rising water and winds.

Mr Russell said: “In all, these measures will greatly help protect the vulnerable communities of the Western Isles from the threat of coastal flooding in future years.

“I would like to pay tribute to individuals and communities who have continued to fight for these resources, and to the council and local elected representatives who have pressed upon me the need for honouring long-standing commitments.”

Other flood defence works will take part in Benbecula and Barra, which each have a population of a little over 1,000.

The amount of funding that the government will provide for the four schemes will not be known until the local authority has carried out a tendering process.

The hydrodynamic study, which is expected to take about a year to complete, aims to improve the understanding of wave and tidal regimes in the South Ford area.

A £249,500 grant will also be given to the local authority’s Safe Routes programme.

This is in addition to £432,000 given to the local authority by the Scottish Executive last year to upgrade escape routes.

The funding is being drawn from a £42million pot of grants made available by the Scottish Executive in 2007-08 to local authorities to support flood prevention and coastal protection schemes.

Kate Martin

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