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Statutory Process

In Scotland primary responsibility for protecting land from flooding lies with the landowner. However, the Flood Prevention (Scotland) Act 1961 gave local authorities discretionary powers to make and build Flood Prevention Schemes for the prevention or mitigation of flooding of non-agricultural land. If a local authority is considering work, other than maintenance and repair, this must be carried out in accordance with a Flood Prevention Scheme. Schemes must then be confirmed by Scottish Ministers and when confirmed, schemes may be eligible for central government grant.

In addition, the Flood Prevention and Land Drainage (Scotland) Act 1997 imposed duties on Councils requiring them to assess, maintain and protect watercourses where it appears to the local authority that any watercourse in their area is in a condition which is likely to cause flooding of non-agricultural land.

There are statutory steps which must be completed before the Flood Prevention Scheme can be confirmed. Confirmation of a scheme allows the authority to proceed to carry out the work but the authority may also require other statutory consents such as planning.

A Flood Prevention Scheme must describe the flood prevention operations which are proposed and the land which would be affected by them and normally does so by reference to maps and plans. The scheme must also specify any land the local authority would have to enter for the purposes of carrying out the operations described in the scheme.

A local authority must advertise the scheme in the locality. Any person may object in writing to Ministers within a three month period from the date of the advertisement. If an objection from any person whose land may be adversely affected by the scheme is not withdrawn, it will be considered at a Public Local Inquiry.

After all objections have been withdrawn, and after any local inquiry has reported, the Executive will consider the scheme for confirmation. Ministers may confirm a scheme, with or without modifications, or refuse to confirm a scheme. Grants at 80 per cent of the eligible costs are available from the Scottish Executive for confirmed schemes which meet our technical, environmental and economic criteria.

It is entirely a matter for local authorities to determine whether and to what extent they will exercise their powers in light of the needs of their area; Ministers have no power to intervene in that determination.

Ministers are however committed to helping local authorities increase protection for communities affected by flooding through investment in flood prevention schemes. As an outcome of a spending review, Ministers have increased the resources available to £89 million over three years. It is for local authorities to come forward with suitable schemes to take up these resources.

The Water Framework Directive (WFD) is the most substantial piece of EC water legislation to date. It requires all inland and coastal waters to reach "good status" by 2015. It will do this by establishing a river basin district structure within which demanding environmental objectives will be set, including ecological targets for surface waters.

The Directive came into force on December 22, 2000. The Directive sets out a timetable for both initial transposition into laws of Member States and thereafter for the implementation of requirements.