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.

2. Understanding and Working with Catchments and Coasts

2.1 Background

Actions that affect one part of a river, coast or estuary can have consequences elsewhere. This means that flood management actions are most effective when they are planned and coordinated within catchments and along coasts in a way that is uninhibited by administrative boundaries.

Adopting a catchment approach to flood risk management requires an appreciation of catchment and coastal processes, and an understanding of how best to manage the sources and pathways of flood water. This includes looking at how the timing, magnitude and duration of a flood can be managed, e.g. by creating, restoring and enhancing natural features and characteristics of the landscape, including wetlands, woodlands, vegetation, functional flood plains, saltmarshes, beaches and dunes.

2.2 Flooding and Land-Use Planning

Scotland applies a precautionary approach to managing flood risk.

SEPA is a statutory consultee in the land-use planning process and provide advice, evidence and support to help planning authorities meet their statutory FRM and land-use planning duties through appropriate development. This ensures that core flood risk management principles such as avoidance are carried through into sustainable place making and included at the heart of the land-use planning decision making process.

The Planning (Scotland) Act 2019 was passed in June 2019. A refresh of the National Planning Framework and Scottish Planning Policy is now under way and will consider how planning can effectively reduce both current and future flood risk.

In 2019, the Scottish Government and SEPA commissioned ClimateXChange to undertake research to help understand the causes and impacts of piecemeal floodplain loss in Scotland. There are a number of reasons for loss, including historical planning permissions, the cumulative effect of small scale developments and householder and agricultural permitted developments. The study was a first step in identifying the potential impact that incremental and piecemeal functional floodplain loss could have on flood risk to downstream communities and local receptors.

The Centre for Expertise in Water (CREW), which is funded by the Scottish Government, also published a report quantifying rates of urban creep in Scotland. This allowed the first city-wide estimates of urban creep to be produced for Scotland. The project also quantified urban expansion, which is the conversion of new land to urban areas, for example by building housing estates on farmland. The findings of this report will help develop the Scottish Government's thinking and approach to managing surface water in urban areas.

2.3 Dynamic Coast – Scotland's National Coastal Change Assessments

We continue to work with partners and stakeholders to plan, mitigate and adapt in advance of greater impacts along the coast and improve our understanding of coastal erosion. This requires cross sector and integrated adaptation and mitigation planning.

In 2017 Dynamic Coast 1 found that one-fifth of our coastline (over 400kms) is 'soft' and therefore susceptible to erosion. It assessed that erosion rates were increasing and that this will progressively impact Scotland's coastline, its assets and communities. At present 'natural defences' such as beaches and dunes protect £13bn of assets, some of these are eroding and £400m of assets will be threatened by 2050, if erosion continue.

Dynamic Coast continued in 2019 and considered how projected sea level rises of up to 0.9m by 2100 might further increase and accelerate erosion rates. Focussing on sites, including Montrose and St Andrews, the Dynamic Coast team are working with local stakeholders to develop adaptation plans that take account of the impacts of sea level rise.

Dynamic Coast projects 1 and 2 were commissioned by the Scottish Government through CREW. The research was carried out by the University of Glasgow and managed by NatureScot.

In February 2019 the Dynamic Coast Team won the 'Spotlight' award at the annual Scottish Knowledge Exchange Awards. The award was chosen from all the applications received for all the categories.

The Dynamic Coast Team was also a worthy runner-up in the 'Best Research Project of the Year Award' at the Herald Higher Education Awards 2019.

The Team continue to work with SEPA as coastal erosion and flooding are interlinked.

2.4 Natural Flood Management

The Scottish Government, SEPA, local authorities and other partners continue to work together to deliver natural flood management (NFM) in Scotland.

SEPA's NFM opportunity maps are currently being reviewed with a view to updating existing maps and producing new maps to further assist in the targeting of NFM. SEPA has also undertaken analysis of where features such as embankments and sea walls are providing flood protection. This forms part of the ongoing work to identify where existing artificial and natural features help with flood risk mitigation and should be protected and/or restored. SEPA has also worked with Scottish Forestry and Forestry and Land Scotland (FLS) to identify areas of the national forest estate where forestry management may influence flood risk. This information is now used in support of the Land Management Plans produced by FLS. SEPA continue to support the responsible authorities in delivering over 100 actions with an NFM component identified in the 2015 FRM Strategies and 2016-22 Local FRM Plans.

In addition to flood risk mitigation, NFM frequently delivers other benefits. Opportunities to integrate NFM delivery with other drivers has been examined, with many local authorities assessing River Basin Management Planning (RBMP) and NFM opportunities within their flood studies.

2.4.1 Scottish Government Rural Payments Agri-Environment Climate (AEC) Scheme

This scheme promotes land management practices which protect and enhance Scotland's environment, improve water quality, manage flood risk and mitigate and adapt to climate change. The Scheme now compensates land managers for implementing measures on their land that can help increase storage of flood waters. This includes capital items and management options such as embankment removal. The scheme is delivered jointly by Scottish Government and NatureScot and a total of 472 businesses benefitted from the 2019 round of Agri-Environment Climate Scheme funding, with £34 million being awarded.

2.4.2 CIRIA Natural Flood Management Guidance

For natural flood management to have any significant impact, schemes need to be technically robust. However, there is a lack of suitable guidance around on the ground delivery. To address this gap, CIRIA commissioned work in late 2019 to develop a 'NFM Manual'. This guidance will present case studies, develop a design philosophy, design objectives and criteria to ensure the right outcomes are delivered. The guidance will also signpost how designing for multiple benefits can unlock different funding sources. SEPA are part funders of this work and are supporting its delivery.

2.4.3 Natural Flood Management Network

Following the launch of the NFM Network Scotland in 2018, membership has grown throughout 2019. The dedicated online resource on NFM brings together practitioners, researchers and communities from around the world to share knowledge and best practice on NFM. The network provides information on relevant news and events, Scottish case studies, and NFM resources.

2.5 International Best Practice Event, Edinburgh, May 2019

In May 2019 Edinburgh played host to an International Best Practice event on working with nature to manage flood risk. Over five days 100 experts from 15 countries around the world discussed the challenges and opportunities of designing, implementing, and maintaining nature-based features in conjunction with flood risk reduction measures. This included representatives from the following projects/working groups:

Roseanna Cunningham, the Cabinet Secretary for Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform met with project partners and gave a keynote speech and the Scottish Government hosted a reception for all the delegates.

2.6 EU Interreg North Sea Region Building with Nature project

In 2019 Scottish Government, Tweed Forum and SEPA continued their engagement with partners in the EU Interreg Building with Nature project. The Building with Nature project aims to demonstrate how measures that work with natural processes can manage flood and coastal erosion risks whilst enhancing ecosystem services.

The lack of robust evidence for NFM measures means that uptake across the

North Sea Region and Scotland is limited. Between 2016-2020, Scotland will receive up to 400,000 € for the Eddleston Water project; this will be matched by Scottish Government.

In 2019 we visited projects and held meetings in Sweden, Norway, the Netherlands and Flanders to learn more about international practices in natural flood management.

2.6.1 The Eddleston Water Project

The Eddleston Water project started in 2010 and aims to reduce flood risk and restore the river for the benefit of the local community and wildlife. The project is a partnership initiative led by Tweed Forum, with support from Scottish Government, SEPA, and the Scottish Borders Council. In 2019 monitoring was provided by the University of Dundee and the British Geological Survey.

Tweed Forum has worked with land managers on 17 farms to introduce subtle changes to current land management practices in order to slow water flow from the hills, create floodwater storage areas and reconnect the river with its floodplain. This includes creating riparian woodland, planting native trees, re-meandering 2 river channel, removing flood embankments, and more recently installing ponds and 'high flow restrictors'.

The Eddleston catchment is comprehensively monitored so that the effect of restoration measures can be fully understood. The detailed monitoring programme is funded by the Scottish Government.

Tweed Forum continues to work with responsible authorities and other stakeholders, including at risk communities, to promote awareness of how integrated catchment management can help manage flood risk and deliver multiple benefits for the environment and communities. At the opening of the Tweed Forum's new offices in 2019, they had the opportunity to demonstrate the natural flood management catchment model to HRH Prince Charles.



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