Implementation of the Flood Risk Management (Scotland) Act 2009: report to the Scottish Parliament - 2019

Progress of work carried out in 2019 through the implementation of the Flood Risk Management (Scotland) Act 2009.

6. Engaging With the Public

Public awareness, participation and community engagement are essential components of sustainable flood risk management. Public participation can raise awareness of flood risk, inform decisions that contribute to the successful implementation of actions and ensure that the public know what actions they can take themselves.

Land and property owners are primarily responsible for protecting their properties from flooding. Individuals, businesses and communities can play an important local role in flood management by acting as their own first line of defence against flooding. These actions can play an important role in complementing and supporting the work undertaken by SEPA and the responsible authorities.

The Scottish Government, SEPA, local authorities and other partners support a number of initiatives that help to improve community engagement and increase community resilience.

Whilst not specifically highlighted here, local authorities engage with communities through a wide variety of local initiatives, as well as direct engagement as part of delivering the objectives and actions set out in the Local Flood Risk Management Plans.

6.1 Community Engagement and Flood Risk Awareness Raising Initiatives

RiverTrack is a good example of public sector expertise and private sector creativity working together to solve real problems. RiverTrack gives people in flood risk areas a local flood alerting tool. The system uses low-cost sensors to send accurate time sensitive information to individuals about water levels in their local watercourse. It was developed through Scottish Government's Digital Directorate CivTech programme.

Pilot community engagement projects were funded by SEPA and delivered in partnership by Scottish Flood Forum (SFF). The SFF have continued to engage flood risk communities in 2019 with RiverTrack community flood alerting projects. Successful projects were developed with local communities, SEPA and Local Authorities by building a list of candidate sites suitable for locally controlled community flood alerting. The candidate list criteria includes previous flooding in memory, consideration of actions within local flood risk management plans and consideration of flood disadvantage, amongst others.

In 2019 the SFF and RiverTrack built new community flood alerting projects in Blair Atholl, Fintry and with Capability Scotland in Perth with funding from the SSEN Resilient Communities Fund. For further details and good practice points, please see SFF's community flood alerting case study, "Building Resilience with Community Flood Alerting".

The use of RiverTrack continues to help the SFF engage flood risk communities and provides a solid platform from which to build better resilience to flooding.

6.2 Community Flooding Volunteers

The Scottish Government continues to financially support The Conservation Volunteers Scotland (TCVS) who bring a citizen science approach to local community groups to develop activities that help manage flood risk in their area. TCVS is working with Clackmannanshire Council, Stirling Council and SFF to deliver the Citizen Science Community Monitoring project. These projects help raise awareness of flood risk and get local communities involved in recording useful information about local burns.

In Clackmannanshire, TCVS provides training, guidance and support for the volunteers and the Council has selected three burns for volunteers to monitor river levels, sediment chokes and blockages from key vantage points. Through the project local communities and volunteers are actively recording data and taking photographs to monitor how sediments can move within burns and how this can influence flood management techniques.

6.3 Promoting Flood Resilient Properties

6.3.1 Flood Re and Flood Resilience

Flood Re is a flood reinsurance scheme that ensures that flood insurance remains affordable to those who need it. Stakeholders from across Scotland have worked with the insurance industry to develop the scheme to ensure the voices of Scotland's communities at risk of flooding are heard. Flood Re was launched in April 2016 and will be in place until 2039.

Flood Re helps to enable home insurance and associated premiums to remain affordable in areas at risk of flooding. Those benefiting from Flood Re should become more aware of their flood risk and, if possible, take action to reduce their risk by making flood resilient property repairs and installing property level protection.

6.3.2 Flood Resilient Properties Delivery Group and Action Plan

Property level protection and resilience measures are an essential and cost effective part of a sustainable and proactive approach to flood risk management. However, these measures are not being widely taken up in Scotland even though they can speed up the drying out and cleaning up processes after a flood. In some cases it can mean that, post-flood event, residents do not need to move out of their homes and businesses can reopen the next day.

With evidence to support the physical and emotional impacts of living in temporary accommodation after an flood event, the Scottish Government set up the Property Flood Resilience Delivery Group to discuss what support home and business owners might need to make their properties flood resilient. Flood Re and the Association of British Insurers are members of the group.

Scottish Government recognises the importance of flood resilience and in the 2019 Programme for Government included a commitment to publish an action plan to promote and support property flood resilience actions.

The delivery group, overseen by a Chair from the insurance industry and led by a dedicated Project Manager employed by the SFF, produced the action plan, "Living with Flooding: Action Plan". This plan was launched in November 2019 by Ms Cunningham, the Cabinet Secretary for Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform and recommends actions to help promote the use of property flood resilience measures within Scotland.

The Scottish Government continues to work with Defra and the devolved administrations to help residents and business owners take actions to protect their property.

6.3.3 CIRIA Flood Resilient Properties Code of Practice

The Construction Industry Research and Information Association (CIRIA) has worked with a range of stakeholders across the UK, including the Scottish Government, Environment Agency and insurance industry, to develop the "Code of practice for property flood resilience" for resilient flood repairs and property level protection. The project will also develop guidance documents to provide an integrated and authoritative framework that supports good practice and enables property owners, managers and built environment professionals to competently and confidently specify and deliver property flood resilience. The interim Code of Practice was published in 2019. Further guidance will be available in 2021.

6.4 The Scottish Flood Forum

The Scottish Flood Forum (SFF) is an independent Scottish Charity that supports individuals and communities at risk of flooding, including immediate support in the event of flooding as part of its flood recovery programme, and flood resilience and awareness raising.

The Scottish Government has grant funded the SFF since 2009. Since 2019 the SFF have taken on the new role of coordinating the Property Flood Resilience Delivery Group and funding was increased to £189,000 to enable delivery of this additional activity.

6.4.1 Flood Recovery

The SFF recovery programme provides an Integrated Recovery Framework in which both the community and local authorities work in partnership towards a common goal of rebuilding and reuniting the community. This provides a means of responding to the many complex and social needs within the affected community.

SFF support a large number of communities affected by localised flooding, much of it caused by extreme surface water events. Many localised flooding incidents were not widely reported but numerous households impacted required the SFF's recovery support. Due to the nature of the flooding, on a number of occasions, the SFF worked closely with both relevant local authority and Scottish Water staff.

Further detail on SFF's community support is available in Annex A.

6.4.2 Flood Resilience and Awareness Raising

The SFF now supports over 40 community flood groups, directly and indirectly, at various stages of development across Scotland and in 2019 has supported the development of new groups in Perth and Kinross, Fife, Argyll and Bute and Stirling council areas, amongst others.

SFF partnered with Flood Re to deliver three regional community events in Perth, Aberdeen and Glasgow. These events enabled attendees from flood risk communities to discuss and agree the key requirements for, and barriers to, becoming a resilient community and to discuss ongoing insurance issues with Flood Re staff. The SFF continue to raise awareness of the barriers identified and held a further peer-to-peer networking event to allow attendees to hear input from Scottish Water, SEPA and local authority representatives.

The SFF raised awareness of the support available to flood risk communities at flood warning launches in Forres and Elgin and at a number of flood scheme and study consultation events across Scotland. The SFF supported volunteer groups by attending community led resilience days with their Resilience vehicle "Flo".

The SFF has also started to build a strong partnership with The Conservation Volunteers (TCV), using complementary skill sets to build community resilience, in particular in 2019 in Tillicoultry and Menstrie.

The Scottish Government requested that the SFF, alongside community members, present their approach on building community resilience in Menstrie to a visiting US trade delegation. This resulted in ongoing engagement with US professionals with an interest in resilience.

6.5 SEPA: Awareness Raising and Community Engagement

6.5.1 Floodline

Since 2011, SEPA has delivered live flooding information direct to the public through their Floodline service. Registered customers have increased to nearly 30,000, with around 400 messages issued every year.

Every year hundreds of thousands of people access SEPA information digitally and they continue to develop communications for specific weather situations to ensure customers understand their services, for example for heavy thunderstorms as experienced during the summer of 2019.

6.5.2 Information Sharing Tools – Webcam observations of flooding impacts

In May 2019, SEPA launched a pilot project using webcams to capture the impacts of flooding in 4 remote coastal locations along the Solway Firth - Kingholm Quay, Carsethorn, Isle of Whithorn and Port Logan. These communities have been selected to provide a variety of water level and wave impacts, large and small communities, and communities in remote sections of the Solway Firth.

SEPA are working in collaboration with Farson Digital Watercams for this pilot project. Their webcams provide awareness of coastal flooding conditions and provide live visual footage. The information will help with the ongoing calibration of SEPA's forecasting models, including events where no flooding impacts are witnessed. The images are hosted on Farson's website, offering full access for the local community. SEPA has direct remote access to allow live streaming of data when required.

The use of webcams along the Solway coast allows SEPA to:

  • Verify flood events and coastal conditions remotely
  • Increase confidence in flood warnings
  • Gather flood impacts in small and remote locations
  • Assist recalibration of coastal forecasting models
  • Build relationships with rural communities at risk of flooding

6.5.3 Responsibilities Campaigns

In November 2019, SEPA ran a six-week public campaign to promote the individual's flooding roles and responsibilities. The video-based campaign used stories from individuals and community groups who have been flooded in the past to help explain what an individual can and should do to prepare for a flood.

The videos were advertised on Facebook, Instagram and YouTube, promoted during Resilience week and shared across SEPA's social media and their partner channels.

The campaign was viewed over 1,000,000 times across digital channels during the campaign period and can be viewed on the Floodline Scotland website,

6.5.4 Flood Warning Public Communications

Flood warning public communications work was undertaken for the improved flood warning schemes along the River Findhorn and River Lossie (Moray). Marketing and communications activities to promote the improvement to the schemes included:

  • Postcards sent to properties within the flood risk areas with details about the Flood Warning schemes and how to register to Floodline
  • Public and partner community information events
  • Advertising, media and publicity campaigns
  • Digital and social media messaging, including by partners.

6.5.5 Community Safety

To include flooding within community safety, SEPA regularly join forces with the emergency services, local industries and voluntary organisations to help deliver 'Safe' events and education in Perth & Kinross, Tayside, Orkney Islands, Edinburgh & the Lothians and Highlands & Islands, where 75% of all schools are engaged.

The events deliver important flood safety and flood preparedness messages through a fun, interactive and informative activity. They now help over 10,000 primary seven pupils per year deal with and avoid a range of hazards including flooding.



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