Flood resilience strategy: consultation

This consultation seeks your views on Scotland's first Flood Resilience Strategy, which will lay out what we need to do in the long term to make our places more flood resilient. The consultation asks questions about our proposed principles and the three key themes of people, places and processes.

1. Introduction

Scotland’s climate has changed significantly and will continue to change for decades to come. The biggest climate challenge we face is adapting to our increased exposure to flooding and responding to the impacts this is having on our people, places and activities. We need to learn to live with and adapt to flooding in Scotland.

As part of Scotland’s National Adaptation Plan and our wider Just Transition commitments, the Scottish Government is developing a Flood Resilience Strategy which will focus on what we need to do to make our communities more flood resilient over the coming decades.

10 of our hottest years have all come in the last 20 years. A warmer climate means an increase in winter rainfall, which can bring river flooding like we saw last winter in the east of Scotland, and more intense short periods of summer rainfall of the type that causes flooding in our towns and cities when drainage systems and roads are flooded. Warmer global temperatures also contribute to sea level rise which, year-on-year, is increasing our flood exposure and erosion round our coastline.

The Scottish Government has invested £42 million pounds each year and an additional £150 million in the course of this parliament on measures to reduce the impacts of flooding. Starting in 2022, and lasting for four years, the Scottish Government also introduced a new capital budget of £12m available to local authorities to manage coastal change. However, our exposure continues to increase due to climate change. Recent events like Storm Babet have shown that even places like Brechin with established robust flood protection in place can still be flooded in bigger storms. This demonstrates the flood resilience challenge we have in keeping up with our changing climate.

Reducing the impacts of flooding in future will be as much about the design of our places as it is about the design of our flood actions.

To be able to cope with increased floods in the decades ahead we need to start adapting our places to become more flood resilient. This means that we need to look at how we can reduce our flood exposure by all available means and ensure that flooding is considered by a wider range of delivery partners across society. In urban areas, by involving those that design and develop our towns and cities, and in rural areas thinking about how our land use and land management can help reduce flooding impacts.

In the long-term this will include giving space to our rivers and our coastline by gradually moving back from the worst flooded areas and ensuring that activities in those areas are resilient when floods happen. Scotland's National Planning Framework (NPF4) is already strengthening our resilience by promoting avoidance of development in areas that flood and coastal areas which may erode in the future.

The Flood Resilience Strategy aims to move us away from thinking we can “fix flooding problems” to a position where we are working across multiple sectors to create flood resilient places. This means taking all the opportunities we can to reduce our exposure to flooding and to lessen the impact when our places do flood.

Following a programme of engagement with the flooding community and wider stakeholders this consultation document proposes key principles to shape our approach to improving our flood resilience in the decades ahead and suggests a number of big changes which may be necessary to deliver it.

Your response to this consultation will help us develop the strategy. We are seeking your views on the key guiding principles and the actions that we will take to improve our flood resilience in Scotland. To meet the challenge of climate change, action on flooding will need to involve many more people than it has in the past, so your input is vital to help develop a strategy that works for everyone.

Responding to this Consultation

We are inviting responses to this consultation by Tuesday 13 August.

Please respond to this consultation using the Scottish Government’s consultation hub, Citizen Space (http://consult.gov.scot). Access and respond to this consultation online at https://consult.gov.scot/environment-forestry/flood-resilience-strategy-consultation. You can save and return to your responses while the consultation is still open. Please ensure that consultation responses are submitted before the closing date of Tuesday 13 August.

If you are unable to respond using our consultation hub, please complete the Respondent Information Form and send to:

Flooding Team
Scottish Government
3 J South
Victoria Quay
Edinburgh, EH6 6QQ

Handling your response

If you respond using the consultation hub, you will be directed to the About You page before submitting your response. Please indicate how you wish your response to be handled and, in particular, whether you are content for your response to published. If you ask for your response not to be published, we will regard it as confidential, and we will treat it accordingly.

All respondents should be aware that the Scottish Government is subject to the provisions of the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 and would therefore have to consider any request made to it under the Act for information relating to responses made to this consultation exercise.

To find out how we handle your personal data, please see our privacy policy:


Next steps in the process

Where respondents have given permission for their response to be made public, and after we have checked that they contain no potentially defamatory material, responses will be made available to the public at http://consult.gov.scot. If you use the consultation hub to respond, you will receive a copy of your response via email.

Following the closing date, all responses will be analysed and considered along with any other available evidence to help us. Responses will be published where we have been given permission to do so. An analysis report will also be made available.

Comments and complaints

If you have any comments about how this consultation exercise has been conducted,

please send them to the contact address above or at flooding_mailbox@gov.scot.

Scottish Government consultation process

Consultation is an essential part of the policymaking process. It gives us the opportunity to consider your opinion and expertise on a proposed area of work.

You can find all our consultations online: http://consult.gov.scot. Each consultation details the issues under consideration, as well as a way for you to give us your views, either online, by email or by post.

Responses will be analysed and used as part of the decision making process, along with a range of other available information and evidence. We will publish a report of this analysis for every consultation. Depending on the nature of the consultation exercise the responses received may:

  • indicate the need for policy development or review
  • inform the development of a particular policy
  • help decisions to be made between alternative policy proposals
  • be used to finalise legislation before it is implemented

While details of particular circumstances described in a response to a consultation exercise may usefully inform the policy process, consultation exercises cannot address individual concerns and comments, which should be directed to the relevant public body.

What is flood resilience?

Flood resilience is about our ability to avoid flooding and, where we can’t avoid it, being well prepared, responding well, and recovering quickly from damaging flood events.

Assess – This is about understanding where flooding will occur and what the impacts are when flooding happens. This can help us avoid, prepare and respond to flooding.

Avoid – This is about how we minimise our exposure in areas that flood. This includes avoiding new development in areas that flood and areas which have an erosion risk, and ensuring that essential infrastructure is not impacted by floods. This also includes changing activities in areas that frequently flood. For example, if a community is exposed to frequent flooding, one option to improve its flood resilience in the long term may be to slowly withdraw from the flooded area over time.

Prepare – Where we can’t avoid flooding in certain areas we need to prepare. Being prepared includes being aware of our flood exposure, having well-designed places that are adapted to their flood exposure, having good flood forecasting and warning systems in place, being ready to respond and having flood protection in place. This can be large flood protection structures like we have in many of our towns and cities, enhancing natural protection at the coast for example from dunes, or small individual household protection measures such as flood guards. Flood resilience actions are coordinated through Scotland’s Flood Risk Management Plans.

Respond – This is what we do when flooding happens to ensure that we stay safe and to minimise the impacts. It includes the actions of the emergency services, other responders and individuals. Our flood forecasting and early warning systems help communities and emergency services to respond. It also includes how we respond after the event by taking into account what we have learned and what we can do differently in future to reduce the impacts next time it happens.

Recover – This is about how quickly we can bounce back after a flood in a way that makes us more resilient to future floods. Our ability to recover will depend on how well we have avoided areas that flood and how well we have prepared and responded. Communities that avoid well, prepare well and respond well will recover well.


The Scottish Government committed to consulting on a new flooding strategy for Scotland in The Programme for Government 2022-2023, to build community flood resilience and engage a broader range of delivery partners to deliver more diverse flood management actions faster.

Over the course of 2023 we have undertaken a programme of engagement, delivered by Sniffer, ClimateXChange and Scottish Flood Forum asking community representatives, practitioners, and researchers what the Flood Resilience Strategy must address.

This included 12 workshops attended by more than 300 people and an online survey that ran over October and November and received 57 responses.

Sniffer produced a report, Toward’s Scotland’s Flood Resilience Strategy, that captured what people said during those workshops, and we have used this report to help us to structure the proposed strategy.

The Strategy will set the long-term direction and framework for improving our flood resilience both locally and nationally.

It will:

  • Communicate the overall change we need to make in how we deal with flooding, from “fixing flooding problems” to creating flood resilient places.
  • Lay out the principles we must follow to improve flood resilience in the period ahead.
  • Set out the high-level changes required to make this happen.

The Strategy will help Scotland adapt to climate change and will sit alongside Scotland’s third National Adaptation Plan (SNAP3), which is due to be published in Autumn 2024.


Email: flooding_mailbox@gov.scot

Back to top