GUNN MacPHEE & ASSOCIATES (Consulting Engineers)

Experts in water engineering and environmental solutions

Flash flooding can have a devastating effect on homes and communities and is a real concern for many homeowners and small businesses in the Highlands.

Gunn MacPhee and Associates can provide some piece of mind for property holders by carrying out an independent flood and drainage risk assessment as well as advising of safeguards to put in place.

The consulting engineer firm based in Dingwall specialises in water engineering and environmental projects, and works in conjunction with local authorities to ensure regulations are met.

It is not just flooding that is an issue concerning property developers and home owners –pollution control is also an area of responsibility that undergoes strict regulation from local authorities.

Gunn MacPhee and Associates provides individually tailored designs for water and drainage systems to home builders and property developers on sites that are not connected to the public infrastructure Partners Colin MacPhee and Ian Fraser and their dedicated team of experts also work with architects and developers to ensure sufficient drainage systems are installed to deal with excess surface water, which is a major cause of flash flooding. Colin said: “Highland Council, SEPA and Scottish Water have all identified that one of the problems facing us all is flooding, so most surface water drainage systems now have to be well engineered so they arenot going to cause or increase flooding potential to any other neighbouring developments or communities.

Ian said: “Any drainage system has to actually treat as well as store and dispose of the surface water so the thinking in Scotland now tends to be sustainable urban drainage systems (SuDS).There are different methods of achieving this, all of which try to use the way nature gets rid of water rather than resort to hard engineering and pipe work.”

But the engineering consultants say one of the challenges they face is that householders and construction professionals are not always aware of the level of responsibility they have in terms of the environment.

“The environmental legislation is changing continuously and the obligations on developers and potential householders are increasing day by day,” Colin said. “Most people are uninformed of the processes and what their obligations are, and unfortunately we tend to get pulled into projects late in the day when relationships between the client, council and architect may be fraught.”

Another concern for Gunn MacPhee and Associates is that developers and architects can be unaware of what is involved in installing a drainage system and often leave it to the end of the project.

Colin said: “The drainage design really has to be started at the beginning of a project because one of the biggest problems we have is that by the time we come on board the spaces for houses and roads, and recreational areas like parks are all taken up. So it makes it very difficult for us to design something that is going to fit and look natural and be easy to access and maintain, and comply with all the legislation.”

As a result the specialist firm has given several presentations to local architects to make them aware of what is involved in installing a drainage system, so they understand why it should feature in the initial plans.

Gunn MacPhee and Associates has also noticed arising trend in the number of small developers and house builders buying water treatment plants on the internet or from a wholesaler without any knowledge of how to install and operate it or even if it is suitable for the purpose.

Colin said: “Anyone can buy a waste water treatment plant but the problem is that someone has to do the survey work and the design to allow it to be installed correctly onsite. They also need to get all the statutory permission in place and ensure the product they have bought is actually going to do the job.”

He added: “I think the best analogy is if you compare one of these systems to an engine in a car, someone had to design and put together the rest of the car and that is what we are trying to get across to our clients.”

For a consultation on water and drainage systems or to request a flood risk assessment contact Gunn MacPhee and Associates on 01349 866700 or visit the website

The firm also specialises in civil engineering and its extensive knowledge in pollution control and management enables it to provide detailed technical reports on a range of pollution problems, such as noise, air and electrical harmonics as well as flooding and water pollution.

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