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The Flood Risk Management (Scotland) Act 2009 - Sustainable flood risk management – principles of appraisal: a policy statement

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3. Stage one: define issues and objectives

3.1 Defining the purpose

The first step in the appraisal process is to define the purpose of the appraisal, the issue and the case for intervention. This will involve defining a baseline based on existing flood risk and describing how risk changes over time (for example, due to changing climate) under a do-nothing approach. Appraisers should use the most up to date information available which may include information used to support SEPA's National Flood Risk Assessment, subsequent flood hazard and flood risk mapping and any further detailed flood risk studies carried out at the local or catchment scale.

3.2 Setting objectives

The appraisal process must define the objectives for a plan, strategy or project. The objectives should be in line with wider government policy and the HM Treasury Green Book (2003); be SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-bound); and include a realistic timetable for delivery, which could include phasing over multiple flood risk management cycles.

There should be demonstrable links between objectives set out in a flood risk management plan and their contribution to tackling national, regional or local priorities, particularly in areas identified by SEPA as being potentially vulnerable to flooding.

All objectives should be established in dialogue with partners and stakeholders and should not be biased to favour or to marginalise any group.

When considering objectives for a plan or project, the opportunity for delivering multiple outcomes and attracting funding from private beneficiaries and other sources should be considered from the outset.

3.3 Statutory requirements

In a limited number of cases statutory requirements may give rise to the need for specific do-minimum options to be considered in a strategy or project. In such cases meeting the minimum legal requirement should be a primary objective of the project. However, any wider benefits associated with such projects should also be explored to see whether there is a case for doing more than the minimum legal requirement.

Meeting the requirements of environmental legislation, such as the EC Water Framework Directive and the Birds and Habitats Directives, will always be necessary and should be considered from the outset, both in terms of potential negative and positive contributions to delivering environmental targets and objectives. Options that do not meet these requirements should be screened out at the outset and excluded from further evaluation.

Any specific legal obligations that apply should be clarified early in the appraisal process including how such requirements can be met.

3.4 Strategic context

Objectives should be established with reference to government policy and plans, and other relevant strategies. At a project level, appraisal should clearly reflect the relevant flood risk management plan for the study area. Examples of relevant plans are outlined in section 3 of Delivering Sustainable Flood Risk Management.

Where there are opportunities and synergies with other government objectives, flood risk management plans, strategies and projects should aim to deliver multiple objectives. All opportunities to manage flood risk through projects that may have other primary aims, for instance through actions to protect the water environment or through urban regeneration initiatives, should be identified.

The management of flood risk will impact on many aspects of the social, natural and historic environment. Wherever possible, SEPA and the responsible authorities should manage flood risk in ways that will improve the social, natural and historic environment at the same time as reducing the risks to people and property. Opportunities to do more, while also cost-effectively reducing risk, should be promoted.

The potential negative impact of interventions to the environment, and in particular the water environment, should also be considered at all stages of the appraisal process. Wherever possible, these impacts should be minimised through the development of environmentally sensitive options.