MAJOR flooding in the Borders last week has convinced people that "climate change is happening", according to a councillor.

A ‘major incident’ was declared in Hawick on Thursday, October 28, with up to 500 houses potentially at risk following sustained periods of heavy rain.

And Hawick councillor Davie Paterson says the flooding has convinced “a lot of folk” in the town that “climate change is happening”.

“It was an extremely worrying time for everyone, especially those people living so close to any of the rivers,” said Mr Paterson, an independent representative. “There was a general sense of worry I felt in the town last week with folk saying, ‘Please not again, we just don’t need this’.

"I think it certainly got home to a lot of folk in Hawick that climate change is happening with severe rainfall happening far too frequently to just be a coincidence. I am hoping that world leaders can make the correct and proper changes that have to be made to save our planet.”

Hawick and Peebles were among the areas worst affected by last week’s rain, with the council warning on Thursday that the situation was “worsening rapidly”.

A maximum level on the River Teviot of 2.9m was reached at 7.30pm, with the council standing down the ‘major incident’ at around 10pm.

“I think that we in Hawick can consider ourselves fortunate on this occasion not to have all the horrors of massive flooding, but unless our world leaders agree to take decisive and immediate action now it will just be a matter of time before Hawick or another town or city gets flooded,” added Mr Paterson.

World leaders are currently gathered in Glasgow for the COP26 climate conference.

The global meeting saw its first major deal on Monday (November 1) with more than 100 nations promising to end and reverse deforestation by 2030.

Fellow Hawick councillor George Turnbull, of the Conservatives, said that last week’s flooding tested the limits of the town’s flood defences.

He added: “It certainly proves that the climate has changed and with so many flooding events and almost becoming a regular format we will all be thankful when the Hawick flood protection scheme is completed in 2023.”

The scheme will deliver protection from a 1 in 75 flood event to over 900 residential and commercial properties at risk along the River Teviot and Slitrig Water.

Independent Hawick councillor Watson McAteer said: “If ever justification for the £100 million Hawick flood relief scheme was needed it was demonstrated by the fears and concerns that followed the declaration of a major incident by the emergency services and their local partners.

“This action kicked-in procedures designed to save lives and provide shelter for the families of the almost 500 homes likely to be directly impacted by the torrent of water flowing from the rivers Teviot and Slitrig.”

Despite flooding affecting communities across the region, the Borders avoided substantial damage, according to the council.

Neighbouring Dumfries and Galloway saw two foot bridges washed away by record river levels as downpours swept across the south of Scotland.

But Scottish Borders Council says that, other than “some significant road surface damage” on a section of the A701, the region has come out relatively unscathed.

The local authority says it is continuing to inspect bridges – especially in the Teviot and Liddesdale, and Tweedbank areas – but that no major issues have been found.