FIFE Council has said they “owe it to the people of Fife” to continue with court action against the firm who designed Dunfermline’s ill-fated £35 million flood prevention scheme.

Legal proceedings for a £9.8m claim against consultants Atkins has been threatened for almost five years, since December 2013, and is now finally due to take place early next year.

Morag Ferguson, the council’s head of legal services, said they had hoped the claim could be resolved through mediation, however this had not yet been possible.

“Officers discussed the current position with members of the policy and coordination committee and they have agreed additional funding to cover the costs of impending court action,” she said.

“We have a strong case and we owe it to the people of Fife to recover public money that should have been put to other uses.”

The action is expected to start in the Court of Session next February and run for around eight weeks.

The flood prevention scheme was first announced in the Press in October 2003 with the council giving an initial estimate of £3.75m. It had been due to begin in April 2005 and be completed by 2007.

The cost rose to £9.77m in November 2005 and the start date was pushed back a second time to May 2007 with a revised budget of £14m. It was finally completed in 2015 at a cost of more than £35m.

The scheme was designed to minimise the risk of flooding to 175 homes and businesses near the Lyne, Tower and Calais burns from Brucefield to the McKane Park area.

The work, contracted to Byzak Ltd, caused anger, disruption and frustration for residents who lost land and access to their gardens due to the project and endured years of traffic misery from the associated roadworks.

Byzak Ltd took legal action against the council after they were ditched as contractors in 2014.

An independent adjudicator ruled in their favour in July 2014, deciding that the contract termination was invalid and Byzak was entitled to receive damages from the council.

This claim was settled however the legal action against Atkins has continued.

There are also still outstanding compensation claims, from affected residents and local businesses, to be settled by the council.