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

Progress of work being carried out through the implementaion 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 not only raise awareness of flood risk, it can also inform decisions and 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.

An infographic showing how the RiverTrack flood alerting system works. Step one (Resilience): Hyper-local, live information gives communities and individuals more time to take action Step two (Data): Real-time, locally available data, uploaded to the Internet provides mobile alerting and access for the wider community Step three (Displays): Located in at – risk homes, businesses and community spaces, displays provide reassurance and customised alerting. Step four (Sensors): Measuring river water level every 15 mins, sensors broadcast live level data using local LoRa network.

The project challenge was promoted by SEPA and managed by RAB Consultants.

In 2018 the Scottish Flood Forum (SFF) and SEPA supported community trials of the innovative device. Feedback from the communities are being incorporated into further development of the system, driving improvements to its construction, ease of use and information sharing capability for Scottish communities.

The RiverTrack project won a Horizon H2020 Programme Innovation Award for its innovative solution to community flood alerting and forecasting.

The Horizon 2020 ANYWHERE project is now piloting RiverTrack in campsites in Catalonia.

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 and SFF to deliver the Citizen Science Community River Monitoring Volunteer project.

The project aims to help raise awareness of flood risk in the Council area and to get local communities involved in recording useful information about some of the Foothills Burns. 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.

Clackmannanshire Council has helped to develop the project and has selected three Burns for volunteers to monitor sediment chokes and blockages from key vantage points. Volunteers record river levels via photographs and relate this to information from the local Menstrie Weather website to record rainfall levels. TCVS provide training, guidance and support for the volunteers and all the survey materials (laminated maps of monitoring sites, recording sheets, weatherproof clipboards, and pencil).

TCVS is working with the Council and neighbouring Councils to roll out this model to other communities and is exploring options with SEPA and Stirling Council to develop the project with communities in the Strathard/Aberfoyle area.

6.3 Promoting Flood Resilient Properties

6.3.1 Flood Re and Flood Resilience

FloodRe 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 it, including the SFF, 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 to remain affordable in areas at risk of flooding, but it also has a role to help manage a transition to prices for home insurance that fully reflect flood risk. Those benefiting from Flood Re need to become more aware of their flood risk and, if possible, take action to reduce it by making flood resilient property repairs and installing property level protection.

6.3.2 Flood Resilient Properties Advisory Group, Framework, 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 process after a flood. In some cases it can mean that 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 and chaired an advisory group 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 advisory group.

The Flood Resilient Properties Advisory Group produced a Framework document in December 2018 to promote flood resilience repairs and products and help property owners take action to make their properties more resilient against the impacts of flooding. The Framework recommends that a Delivery Group is set up in 2019 to prepare an action plan to promote and support property flood resilience actions. The Group will be overseen by a Chair from the insurance industry and led by a dedicated Project Manager, employed by the SFF.

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 Scottish Government is working with partners across the UK to develop a Code of Practice for resilient flood repairs and property level protection. The project will 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 delivery property flood resilience. The outputs are being developed with a range of stakeholders including the insurance industry and will help deliver the flood resilient properties action plan.

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 including £140,000 in 2016/17 and 2017/18 and £157,000 in 2018/19.

6.4.1 Flood Recovery

The SFF recovery programme provides an Integrated Recovery Framework in which both the community and 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.

During this reporting period, the SFF has supported communities to recover from the extreme flooding that occurred during the winter of 2015/16. This was especially severe in Aberdeenshire where it took many months for people to get back into their houses, as well as many other smaller scale events.

"Aberdeenshire Council would like to thank the Scottish Flood Forum for all the support during the response to recent floods and the ongoing support in communities still recovering from flooding. The support is highly valued and appreciated by Aberdeenshire Council".

Will Munro of Aberdeenshire Council

In addition to these severe events, the SFF has supported many other communities across Scotland during other localised flood events. Further detail is available in Annex A.

6.4.2 Flood Resilience Vehicle

In 2018, the SFF received grant funding from Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks Resilient Communities Fund for a resilience vehicle. It will provide staff with a place to stay during a major flood where all accommodation is either flooded or being used by displaced flood victims.

It can provide a space to have one to one conversations where a venue for a flood drop-in centre is not yet set up.

A photo of Cabinet Secretary, Roseanna Cunningham MSP, meeting members of Tillicoultry, Devonside and Coalsnaughton flood action group. The photo has been taken at the community fire station and includes a fire engine and the Scottish Flood Forum’s Flood resilience vehicle in the background.

It is branded and will help raise awareness of the SFF's activities for example at community events as well as when on the road. It has already travelled to Orkney in support of the Orkney Flood Warning Scheme (September 2018) and to visit community resilience groups in Tillicoultry Community Fire Station during Resilience Week (November 2018).

6.4.3 Flood Resilience and Awareness Raising

A photo taken at one of the Scottish Flood Forum’s peer to peer networking events. A man demonstrates how changes to the catchment can have an influence on flooding, using the Tweed Forum’s catchment model.

In late 2015, the SFF recruited a Community Resilience Manager to develop and support community resilience groups, alongside flood recovery work. 42 established groups are now actively engaged and supported on a regular basis.

Quarterly peer-to-peer networking allows group chairs to come together to share experiences and discuss common issues, as well as hear from SEPA, local authorities and others. Topics discussed include natural flood management, flooding and the planning system, SEPA's PVA consultation among others. Events are well received with requests for additional events (as capacity allows) to be held in other parts of Scotland.

The SFF actively work with local authorities to support community engagement in areas at risk of flooding, and ensure that flood risk management actions undertaken by the SFF are recorded against the actions and objectives in the Local FRM plans.

During 2017 the SFF updated its website as it core information sharing and awareness raising tool. As part of this work, a number of infographics were created to help individuals understand what action they should/could take to prepare for, and react to, flood events.

An example screenshot of the Scottish Flood Forum’s website.

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 Floodline. Registered customers have increased to over 28,000, with around 400 messages issued every year and hundreds of thousands of people accessing information digitally.

In December 2016 an independent research project assessed its effectiveness, with over 1,340 people taking part in an online survey. Their feedback resulted in eight key recommendations which will help drive plans to develop the service and SEPA's products over the coming years.

The majority of customers really valued Floodline and recommended that the Service should continue. Full details of all eight recommendations are included in the project reports available at

An image of the cover of SEPA’s ‘Flood Game’ for children promoted as part of Floodline Kids.

Floodline Kids was launched to engage children (under 16s) to learn how to be prepared for flooding. The new resources, including a flood game and activity sheets, were supported by a campaign aimed at the education sector, parents and children themselves.

The package of information shared with members of the public through Floodline also includes a new leaflet on flooding and insurance, called, "Flood insurance: A guide for customers in Scotland." It gives people helpful tips on how to be prepared for flooding, and information to help people find suitable flood insurance cover.

An example of an information leaflet produced by SEPA as part of Floodline. This one is about flood insurance.

6.5.2 Information Sharing Tools

Report-a-Flood was launched in November 2015. It is an information-sharing tool to report floods that are currently happening, or have happened in the last 24 hours.

It is designed to enable communities and individuals across Scotland help each other be aware of and prepared for flooding, by sharing any knowledge of flooding more widely. Sharing this information should help to reduce the damage and disruption flooding can have on people's lives. It allows them to choose to take alternative travel routes, or make other preparations like signing up to Floodline and making a flood kit. Publishing this information should help to increase public awareness of flood risk and local impacts, as it is sourced primarily from members of the public.

SEPA has worked with its counterparts in the other UK nations to improve how flooding information is carried by the BBC. This resulted in better delivery of online and on-screen flood warning information to the British public.

6.5.3 Weather-reactive Campaigns

SEPA has moved much of its public awareness raising activities to be reactive to forecast potential flooding from snowmelt, coastal storms and heavy rain during this reporting period.

A promotional image for Floodline. It says, Flooding is forecast in your area. Plan ahead now. Visit or call 0345 988 1188. It provides advice to move valuables higher, before the hazard rises.

Campaign activations use both radio and digital outputs including significant activity on Facebook and Twitter. Distinct spikes in Floodline registrations and new digital visitors to SEPA's online pages occur around these activations, including in one quarter approximately:

  • 1,600,000 impressions (number of times an advert has been delivered to an individual news feed);
  • 750,000 listeners reached across radio stations used;
  • 5000 page views on the Floodline website;
  • 4500 views on the Floodline sign up page on the SEPA website.

6.5.4 Flood Warning Public Communications

Significant flood warning public communications work was delivered, including around new flood warning schemes. Marketing and other communications activities to promote these schemes included:

  • Postcards sent to properties within the flood risk areas with details about the Flood Warning scheme 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 Education

Scottish Government funded SEPA and its partner Right Lines to develop an interactive play as part of its community engagement programme.

In the play, the audience become the village locals during a flood event. Participants can consider how flooding could impact their community and how they could take steps to prepare.

The play won the Innovation category of the Arts & Business Awards in 2017.

A photo of Stewart Prodger, SEPA’s Flooding Communications and Customer Service Manager, and Euan Martin, Co-Director of Right Lines Productions receiving the Innovation prize at Scotland’s Art and Business Awards in 2017.

6.5.6 Community Safety

SEPA's drive to include flooding within community safety means they 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. The events deliver important flood safety and flood preparedness messages through a fun, interactive and informative activity. They now help >10,000 local primary seven pupils per year deal with and avoid a range of hazards including flooding.

The results of an evaluation from a Safe Taysiders (Dundee) event are shown below. The number of young people who could correctly identify the potential sources of flooding and their associated risks, tripled directly after participation, but was still more than double after 3 months. These events play an important role to increase the level of understanding, and retention, of flood awareness information amongst young people.

A graph showing the results of an evaluation from a Safe Taysiders (Dundee) event. It shows that the number of young people who could correctly identify the potential sources of flooding and their associated risks, tripled directly after participation, but was still more than double after 3 months.


Email: Gordon Robertson

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