Scottish climate change adaptation programme: progress report 2016

Second annual progress report on the Scottish climate change adaptation programme.


Scotland's statutory Adaptation Programme, published in May 2014, has three themes:

  • natural environment
  • buildings and infrastructure
  • society

As we reported last year, and as detailed in this highlights report and case studies (and annexed tables published separately online), work is underway in the vast majority of objectives and there is clear evidence of adaptation being integrated into plans and risk management, particularly in the public sector.

A broad range of major public bodies in Scotland are now required to report annually on compliance with their climate change duties, including adaptation. 2014-15 reports have been published by Local Authorities, Further and Higher Education, National Health Service and others (including transport partnerships, police and emergency services, National Parks, Scottish Water, SEPA and a range of other non-departmental public bodies).

Flooding is a key climate risk for Scotland. In 2015 the first ever round of Flood Risk Strategies were published. Through these the Scottish Government, Scottish Local Authorities and partners are committed to reducing flood risk across Scotland, with an action plan in the first 6 year cycle providing protection to 10,000 properties and proposals for 42 flood protection schemes or engineering works planned.

Winter 2015-16 saw significant flooding in communities across Scotland as a consequence of exceptional rainfall. The Scottish Government made available financial support to those affected and £140,000 is given annually to the Scottish Flood Forum to help publicise flood risk, preparation to reduce it and support those who may be affected.

Scotland has a strong focus on climate justice because climate change impacts most severely on poor people and vulnerable communities. The report Mapping Flood Disadvantage in Scotland 2015 assesses social vulnerability for the key risk of flooding to help people working in flood risk management, resilience, emergency services, public health, social care, housing, and the environment.

The National Coastal Change Assessment is ongoing and is expected to conclude in September 2016. The data and maps collected during the project will support the flood risk management planning process.

Scotland's new National Centre for Resilience was opened at the Crichton Campus in Dumfries on 21 March 2016 as a centre of excellence focussing on natural hazards such as extreme weather and flooding. By bringing together practitioners, academics and communities, the aim of the Centre is to provide information and knowledge sharing and capability developments products and services (e.g. toolkits; guidance; improved forecasting).

In 2015 £3 million was identified for peatland restoration, additional to funding already within the new Scottish Rural Development Programme ( SRDP). The additional £3 million will enable restoration of around 3,000 hectares.

Case Study

Glasgow and Climate Ready Clyde

Glasgow and the Clyde Valley are benefiting from a growing reputation as a climate resilient region where climate risks are understood and acted upon.

Glasgow - named as one of Rockefeller Foundation's 100 climate resilient cities in 2014 - has continued its strong commitment to the benefits of a low carbon, climate resilient city. Climate resilience is at the core of decisions shaping investment in Glasgow and transforming communities.

The Climate Ready Clyde partnership of business and community organisations in the Glasgow and Clyde Valley region, with £100,000 Scottish Government support, will help a third of Scotland's population and economy cope with climate change through adaptation measures, ensuring the region is well-placed to seize the economic opportunities associated with climate resilience. The Climate Ready Clyde project was set up by the Adaptation Scotland Programme and has already increased understanding of how changes in climate are likely to affect different organisations, services and sectors across Glasgow and the Clyde Valley region. Over 40 different organisations, businesses and community groups are taking part in the Climate Ready Clyde project.

Glasgow: a track record of success built on climate adaptation:

White Cart Water Flood prevention scheme is Scotland's largest flood prevention scheme completed in 2011 at a cost of £53 million.

Seven Lochs Wetland Park is destined to become Scotland's largest urban nature park and is an exemplar of green network planning.

Glasgow City Council and partner organisations are working to place climate resilience at the heart of land use planning for the east end of the city. The award winning east end local development plan, now part of the Clyde Gateway regeneration region, and the 2014 Commonwealth Games village are two examples of sites where green networks and sustainable urban drainage are at the heart of plans.

In 2017, Glasgow will host the 3rd European Climate Change Adaptation Conference, attracting around 1000 delegates from around the world. The bid was supported by 46 organisations across Scotland and the UK. It will mark the first time that the conference has been held in the UK since its inauguration, with previous host cities including Hamburg and Copenhagen.

In Edinburgh, the Edinburgh Adapts project by Edinburgh Sustainable Development Partnership and Adaptation Scotland has been collaborating with 40 stakeholders, including Community Planning Partnerships, on an adaptation action plan, helping shape a vision for a climate resilient Edinburgh.

Adaptation Scotland will work with Aberdeen City Council and the University of Aberdeen to involve community, public and private sectors in an adaptation strategy that is owned and implemented by a wide range of partners.

Another of Adaptation Scotland's partnership projects, with the Galloway and Southern Ayrshire Biosphere, led to a published Climate Ready Biosphere vision and action plan.

Scotland's refreshed National Transport Strategy was published in January 2016, setting out the climate change policy context following the Paris Agreement.

A Climate Change Impact Assessment has been undertaken of each NHS Area Health and Special Board in Scotland. Flood risk assessments have been prepared for 250 key health care sites across NHS Scotland.

Scotland's Biodiversity - a Route Map to 2020, published in June 2015, identifies climate change as one of the seven key pressures on biodiversity. Targeted action is set out in the Route Map to address these key pressures and to assist in meeting our international biodiversity obligations

The Strategic Research Programme 2016-2021 which commenced in April 2016 includes continued support for ClimateXChange, Scotland's Centre of Expertise on Climate Change, which provides advice on mitigation and adaptation policy across all sectors of the Scottish economy.

ClimateXChange has worked with Scottish Government, its agencies and other experts, to develop indicators to monitor climate change adaptation in Scotland, covering the natural environment (agriculture, biodiversity and forestry), buildings and infrastructure and society themes represented in the Scottish Climate Change Adaptation Programme. The monitoring will help policy makers and others understand how well Scotland is adapting to climate change, highlighting where successful adaptation is occurring and where policy action may be needed to encourage and strengthen adaptation.

Case Study

NHS Highland - adapting to climate change

NHS Highland provides services across a huge variety of diverse communities including urban centres and extending to some of Scotland's most remote rural and Island communities.

Climate change impacts are already affecting the Highlands and Islands and will pose significant challenges to delivering NHS Highland services. Many actual and potential impacts have been identified, including increased risk of structural damage to hospitals and health centres and, damage to essential road and energy infrastructure impacting delivery of services to patients.

NHS Highland's Environmental & Sustainability Team is taking a strong and proactive response to increasing awareness and managing climate risks. Senior management have acknowledged the seriousness of the risks posed by a changing climate and have involved a wide range of experts in assessing and managing climate risks. Climate impacts have been identified and future climate risk assessments are being developed.

NHS Highland is also working in partnership with Health Facilities Scotland to share lessons about their work with other Health Boards and have made valuable contributions to a dedicated Risk Assessment Task Group run by the Adaptation Scotland Programme.

Case Study

Dumfries and Galloway Council - local authority services and adaptation

Dumfries and Galloway Council Priorities are at the heart of council services. They are based on improving the region's economy and ensuring better lives for children and other vulnerable groups. To understand the challenges and opportunities of the impacts of climate change to delivery of those Priorities, Dumfries and Galloway Council are using the knowledge and skills gathered at Adaptation Scotland's Adaptation Learning Exchange and their key resource for public bodies "Five steps to managing your climate risks".

Progressing Step 2: 'Assess climate threats and opportunities', Dumfries and Galloway Council's Sustainable Development Team is working with Service Managers across the council to consider how critical services have been affected by current weather e.g. recent extreme weather events. The Council are beginning to consider future climate trends and impacts and increase understanding of vulnerabilities with the focus on Council Priorities.

Dumfries and Galloway Council are aiming to achieve a solid foundation for Step 3: 'Identify risks to be managed and plan actions' and to build in work towards Step 4 'Report and implement' and Step 5 'Monitor and review'.

During the preparation of the Council's first climate change duties report in 2015, they found that several strategies and plans already address climate-related risks and opportunities. Any planned strategy and policy revision dates are seen as opportunities to ensure climate change adaptation is embedded. The reshaping of the council includes a review of service risk registers and business continuity plans and the Sustainable Development Team have identified that this presents a further business planning avenue to address climate risks. Dumfries and Galloway Council are also investigating how to improve the guidance for the Impact Assessment toolkit to include climate change adaptation.

Dumfries and Galloway Council are playing a very active role in sharing knowledge and building partnerships to support adaptation and welcome invitations to collaborate on any of their approaches.

Case Study

Historic Environment Scotland - adapting traditional buildings

Historic Environment Scotland has published some advice for owners of historic and traditional buildings on measures to increase building resilience and address defects associated with a changing climate.

The new publication, called 'Climate Change Adaptation for Traditional Buildings' outlines how changed weather, especially increased rainfall, is putting additional pressure on buildings of all ages and types, but particularly traditionally built mass masonry structures that are characteristic of much of Scotland's urban and rural landscape.

Many traditional and historic building types were designed with features that increased resilience and the ability of a structure to handle and shed liquid water, but understanding of these details has been lost. The use of some modern materials in repair and maintenance can also make problems worse. The traditional features that enhance resilience are described, both in terms of how they look and how they work. However, it is accepted that some change will be required in some places. These vulnerable areas of older buildings are considered, and measures for their repair and upgrade are described. Generally this focusses on upper level masonry such as chimney and gables, but other parts of the building are also described. Historic buildings can be changed, if the work is appropriately detailed and carried out. There is also comment on other climate change impacts such as river and pluvial flooding, along with ways of minimising damage and risk to older structures.

Historic Environment Scotland is also sponsoring several site projects focussing on climate change adaptation measures for older buildings to demonstrate the measures described in the publication. This will involve the re-instatement of traditional finishes and the improvement of certain features such as the tops of chimneys and high level masonry details.

In one recent case in Shetland, the wet gable of a house in a very exposed location was repaired and upgraded; it is now fully dry. Other projects will look at improvements to different building types, including a church building, a tenement and farm cottage. Once work is complete, these site projects will be written up as 'Refurbishment Case Studies', where other designers and the public can see what has been successful and what has been done in detail.

Case Study

Balruddery Farm - Farming for a Better Climate

Farmers have always had to work with the weather, but over the past few years they are seeing more unpredictability, for example colder wetter springs and warmer autumns, making the job much harder to plan for.

Adapting to climate change is becoming part of routine business in farming. By taking steps now, such as securing water supplies for irrigation or reducing soil erosion risks, risks from climate change can be reduced.

Measures taken at Balruddery Farm to adapt to climate change include :-

  • Tied ridges in potato crops. The ridges help crop and soil management in both dry and wet conditions, as irrigation water can be held in the drills at drier times and helps to apply irrigation more accurately and uniformly over a sloping field. This enables better use of water and prevents or reduces runoff taking water, nutrient and soils off the farm.
  • Avoiding Compaction. Working alongside scientists studying soil compaction has made it easier to understand the need to avoid working land in poor conditions or with the wrong equipment.
  • Better use of water for irrigation. Both drought and low rainfall can be issues for potato crops, especially at establishment and tuber development. At Balruddery a borehole and a ring main irrigation system have been installed to channel water to all of the fields; enabling efficient watering of crops during dry spells.
  • Reducing erosion risks. At Balruddery they have recently started to drill commercial crops across the slope to try to prevent erosion, particularly on winter sown crops.
  • Reducing storm damage. They have established new hedge rows and tree lines which are used as natural wind breaks to protect the polytunnels from the prevailing north-westerly winds.

More information on this and other case studies can be found at

Case Study

SNH - demonstrating principles for helping nature adapt

Scottish Natural Heritage has published eight principles for helping nature adapt to climate change (published in the updated 2016 Climate Change and Nature in Scotland). These address issues of uncertainty, resilience and accommodating change in managing nature.

Info Graphic

The principles are illustrated by eight climate change adaptation case studies across a range of Scottish habitats, from the uplands to coastal saltmarsh, particularly on National Nature Reserves. They show how we can adapt management practices to respond to the challenge of climate change, in ways that support nature's role in helping us cope with a changing climate.

Case Study

"Greener Gardens"

The Scottish Government has been working in partnership with Central Scotland Green Network Trust, Taylor Wimpey West Scotland and academia on an innovative 'Greener Gardens' project that looks at how the gardens of new homes can be used to contribute to green infrastructure, biodiversity and storm water management.

The project features a number of strands - all designed to encourage the development of sustainable places - including installation of demonstration rain gardens, academic research, provision of water butts as part of the package for new homeowners, and awareness raising by promoting the benefits of rain gardens both to homeowners and the wider house building industry.

Together with project partners - C&D Associates, Abertay University and Central Scotland Green Network Trust - Taylor Wimpey has installed two types of rain garden and a ' SUDS-in-a-box' (Sustainable Urban Drainage System) at its Torrance Park development of new homes in Holytown, North Lanarkshire. As part of the project, Taylor Wimpey is also funding two years of research of the installation by project partners Abertay University to further investigate how source control SUDS in new housing developments can contribute to storm water management and reducing downstream flooding. The project is leading the way in innovation within this area for the housebuilding industry, with the project being recognised in the 2015 VIBES (Vision in Business for the Environment) Awards.

Case Study

Edinburgh Adapts - creating a vision, planning action.

Steeped in history, Edinburgh is a strong, vibrant and resilient city renowned for its beauty and creativity. In spite of its many strengths Edinburgh is not immune to social, economic and environmental challenges. The impacts of climate change will make these challenges more difficult to address and will also bring new challenges and opportunities.

Edinburgh Adapts is a joint initiative by Adaptation Scotland and the Edinburgh Sustainable Development Partnership ( ESDP). Adaptation Scotland led the partnership in co-developing a framework to achieve its aim of creating a city-wide Action Plan and Visionto drive Edinburgh's adaptation journey.

Beginning in spring 2015, this place-based project has brought together over fifty stakeholders from businesses, public agencies and community organisations at five innovative workshops and a series of one-to-one meetings. As a result, in summer 2016 Edinburgh Adapts will publish the city's first Adaptation Action Plan and Vision. The plan will run from 2016-2020 and contains over 100 committed adaptation actions and over 20 further aspirational actions. The Vision sets out the project partners' adaptation aims for two key landmark dates, 2025 and 2050, and illustrates the benefits of becoming a climate ready city.

Edinburgh Adapts was instrumental in Edinburgh securing a place on the EU Mayors Adapt city twinning programme, contributed to the city being included in two high value Horizon2020 funding bids, and continues to draw new interest from external partners, with a further event on coastal adaptation mooted for later this year.

A strong focus on cooperative action has pushed adaptation into new areas, with the city council's Biodiversity Action Plan now also including adaptation actions in turn, and has built new partnerships around adapting historic buildings, extending permeable paving and more. A dedicated Steering Group drawn from key actors in the action plan has now taken over leadership of the project. This Steering Group will report progress on the Action Plan to the ESDP, ensuring the city's adaptation agenda is self-owned and self-directed.

Reflecting on the benefits of the project, Councillor Lesley Hinds, Chair of the Edinburgh Sustainable Development Partnership , said: "In Edinburgh we are working to take action on climate change in line with Sustainable Edinburgh 2020, which envisages a low carbon, resource-efficient future for the capital.

"By working closely with Adaptation Scotland on the Edinburgh Adapts Project, the Edinburgh Sustainable Development Partnership has been able to enhance collaboration between key organisations and communities to develop an Adaptation Action Plan that truly benefits all stakeholders."

Are We Ready? case study

Talking about the weather is something that many of us do every day. We all notice the weather and discussing how it affects us can be a good way to open up a wider conversation about climate change.

Are We Ready? is a resource for communities to talk about our changing climate as a starting point for getting climate ready. People using the resource don't need to be climate change experts; the film and information sheets provide all the information needed and the workshop guide provides a step by step guide to running a useful and interesting discussion.

Are We Ready? has been developed by the Adaptation Scotland programme, in partnership with the Scottish Communities Climate Action Network ( SCCAN).

SCCAN have trained members to use the resource in their communities and are promoting it across their network. Are We Ready? workshops can be run with different community groups and have been valuable in raising awareness of the need to adapt to local impacts and reduce emissions. The workshop has also helped people to begin developing ideas for projects to help build local resilience.

"As a direct result of an Are We Ready? Workshop, Greener Col Glen has been running for about two years now. After the initial workshop we had a series of meetings where we scoped out projects and discussed what we wanted our community to look like in 2050. At least 20% of households in the village are now able to grow some of their own food rather than make a 40 mile round trip to the nearest large town. We have also started turning invasive rhododendron in to wood fuel and have lots of other projects being developed" Sarah Maclean, Greener Col Glen Coordinator

Download the Are We Ready resources from the Adaptation Scotland website:


Email: Roddy Maclean,

Phone: 0300 244 4000 – Central Enquiry Unit

The Scottish Government
St Andrew's House
Regent Road

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