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Climate change is blamed for high water levels which led to the closure of a South Uist causeway. to

Flooding shuts community's lifeline road for days

Climate change has been blamed for flooding that has closed an island community's lifeline road since Friday following heavy rain.

The coastguard has been using 4x4 vehicles to help residents of Kildonan in South Uist to cross a waterlogged causeway over a loch.

Landowner Stòras Uibhist said climate change was having a "real and immediate" impact on the Western Isles.

The local council said drainage had not coped with increased water levels.

Seven homes in the Kildonan area have been affected by the closure of the causeway.

Meteorologist Dr Eddy Graham, a lecturer at Lews Castle College UHI in Stornoway, said South Uist and other parts of the islands had seen heavy rain in recent weeks.

He said: "It was an extremely wet second half of October, including notable - probably near record - amount of 62.2mm on 28 October, followed by continuous very wet conditions in first two weeks of November.

"A very unusual clustering of days of 40-50mm close together."

Among the Kildonan residents is the local GP, Dr Stephen Bird, who said he was grateful of the help from the coastguard.

He said: "The causeway has flooded quite badly and nobody has been able to get out without significant four-wheel drive cars."

Stòras Uibhist said it was working with the authorities to resolve the problem as quickly as possible.

It said it took its responsibilities seriously and had carried out a number of drainage projects this year.

A spokesman said: "It is clear that climate change is having a real and immediate impact on our fragile environment.

"Rainfall patterns are changing and it is inevitable that problems like those at Kildonan will only get worse.

"Despite our best efforts, this is not an issue that Stòras can be expected to manage on our own."

Western Isles local authority, Comhairle nan Eilean Siar, said an outfall structure that drains rainwater into the sea had been unable to manage "significantly increased river and surface water run off rates".

A spokesman said: "Comhairle staff have inspected the Roe Glas outfall and are currently investigating options to increase the outfall discharge rate to help lower the water level in the loch and alleviate flooding."

The Scottish government, which shares some of the responsibility for the local area's drainage systems, said it was in discussions with the comhairle and Stòras Uibhist about the situation.

A spokeswoman said: "We are aware of the flooding at Kildonan and the exceptionally high rainfall that has fallen in South Uist through October and November."

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