We are testing a new beta website for gov.scot go to new site

The Flood Risk Management (Scotland) Act 2009: Delivering Sustainable Flood Risk Management



Climate change predictions suggest that the number and severity of storm events across Scotland is likely to increase. This could place pressure on our existing defences and reveal new areas at risk of flooding. To deal with these risks, we must continue to improve our understanding of the causes and consequences of flooding and deploy more sustainable approaches to tackling flood risk.

This guidance complements the flooding legislation that was introduced in 2009, the Flood Risk Management (Scotland) Act 2009 (the Act). It sets out statutory guidance to SEPA, local authorities and Scottish Water on fulfilling their responsibilities under the Act, and in particular on the steps that should be taken to manage flooding in a sustainable manner. The guidance is intended to ensure adoption of consistent principles and approaches based on good practice lessons in flood risk management.

In promoting a more sustainable approach to flood risk management, the guidance establishes the five following overarching outcomes for Scotland:

  • A reduction in the number of people, homes and property at risk of flooding as a result of public funds being invested in actions that protect the most vulnerable and those areas at greatest risk of flooding.
  • Rural and urban landscapes with space to store water and slow down the progress of floods.
  • Integrated drainage that decreases burdens on our sewer systems while also delivering reduced flood risk and an improved water environment.
  • A well informed public who understand flood risk and take actions to protect themselves, their property or their businesses.
  • Flood management actions being undertaken that will stand the test of time and be adaptable to future changes in the climate.

Guidance to support delivery of these outcomes is provided through seven themed sections, which cover topics like understanding flood risk, catchment flood management and selecting and implementing sustainable actions. Technical guidance on appraising flood management options is provided separately.

The guidance was developed in close collaboration with SEPA, local authorities, Scottish Water and a wide range of stakeholders representing Scotland's public bodies, flood risk management professionals and other interested parties.