WORK on the Millport Flood Protection Scheme will get underway next year – despite costs rising by an eye-watering £21 million.

A new council report seen by the News has revealed the initial £27 million price tag for the project has almost doubled and will now cost £48m to construct.

However, both North Ayrshire Council and the Scottish Government says they will find the funds to see the project completed, despite the rising costs.

Work is expected to begin next year and is set to be completed in summer 2024, with the construction of a separate marina soon after.

Councillor Scott Davidson, cabinet member for place, says he is delighted that the scheme is still going ahead.

He said: “The Millport Flood Protection Scheme is an important project and will play a vital role in protecting properties and land on the island.

“It is also important in an economic sense as it will allow us to pursue our ambitious plan for the new marina.

“All capital projects are experiencing similar issues with rising costs, so we are delighted that the commitment has been made and these additional costs will be met.

“We look forward to appointing a contractor soon and beginning work in early 2023."

Conservative councillor Todd Ferguson says he is glad that spiralling costs haven’t seen the project scrapped.

He said: “It’s good news for the island, because we see lots of infrastructure projects across the country that run over budget and then just stop or never happen.

“These are challenging circumstances with a cost of living crisis which is putting huge pressures on the cost of materials and labour.

“Kudos to the council and the government for putting forward the extra money because it will be transformational for island life and the people who live here.”

Despite the good news, Cllr Ferguson is concerned that the project will now impact the busy tourist season on Cumbrae.

He explained: “The works could have a huge impact on the island next summer, and I hope discussions have taken place with CalMac about the extra vehicles the scheme will require.

“We don’t want any of that heavy machinery coming across at peak times, as that would severely limit the capacity on the route.

“The island doesn’t need any more disruption which could have a detrimental impact on local businesses during their most profitable time of the year.”

Following the award of a contract, an update will be provided to the community regarding the exact timing of the works.

The community will also be given the opportunity to communicate with the contractor about how the works will be carried out and the impact it will have on local people.