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.

1. Understanding Flood Risk

Flood risk is a measure of the likelihood that a flood event will happen and of its potential adverse consequences. The long-term aim of the Scottish Government and its partners is to reduce this risk.

Robust and reliable information on the causes and consequences of flooding are needed to promote well-informed decisions on how to tackle flood risk.

There have been a number of advances and improvements in our knowledge of flood risk and vulnerability including:

  • Flood mapping
  • National flood risk assessment
  • Flood forecasting and warning
  • Social vulnerability
  • Climate change

1.1 National Flood Maps

SEPA's continuous improvement programme for Scotland's flood maps include the following advances:

  • Flood map method development
  • Science improvements
  • Improved survey data
  • Flood modelling improvements
  • Map updates

There have been seven published river map updates since December 2015 at locations across Scotland ranging from Golspie in Sutherland to Crosshouse in Ayrshire.

A programme of topographic survey data has collected several hundred kilometres of survey information in river corridors and in the coastal zone to support of ongoing flood map development projects.

A complete remapping of the flood risk at Scotland's coast is underway and will feed into the Flood Risk Management (FRM) Strategies in 2021. When these are complete Scotland will, for the first time, have a comprehensive picture of flood risk at our coast that includes inundation from waves and overtopping in addition to the "still water" levels currently represented on the flood maps.

SEPA's flood maps received praise in a European Commission report. The online map view, presented on the SEPA website was included in the good practices adopted section.

1.2 Flood Forecasting and Warning

There are currently 289 flood warning areas across Scotland, where vulnerable communities benefit from SEPA's local early warning service.

The Scottish Government has invested significantly in improving, and supporting the continued development of Scotland's flood warning service. This includes funding to help SEPA and the Met Office operate a Scottish Flood Forecasting Service. This service ensures flood forecasting and warning information is made available to the public and emergency responders throughout Scotland. For example,

  • A daily Flood Guidance Statement is issued to over 500 emergency responders. This provides shared understanding of current and forthcoming flood risk levels and locations, and advance notice of potential flooding situations to aid planning and coordination of appropriate emergency response.
  • Floodline's direct warning service is available to members of the public and sends an alert to subscribers when their postcode is at risk of flooding. The number of registrations to Floodline has continued to increase and now exceeds 28,000 customers; however many more benefit from the service through accessing regional Flood Alerts and local Warnings online and through social media.
  • The Flood Warning Development Framework (2017-2021) sets out plans to enhance the coverage and delivery of flood warning, including 14 new flood warning schemes that have been strategically identified, and prioritised, as part of the first round of flood risk management strategies.

These services, and the new developments and improvements that underpin them, are critical elements of SEPA's role in warning and informing responders and the public of flood risk, and the need to take action to prepare for flooding.

New flood warning schemes have been delivered for:

  • Loch Lomond and River Leven
  • River Garnock
  • Upper Nith
  • River Esk
  • River Cree
  • Orkneys Islands coastal
  • Aberdeen, Aberdeenshire and Angus Coast
  • Solway Coastal
  • Airth
  • Alloa

The forecasting and warning systems are in constant development to expand and improve the service.

1.3 UKCP18

In 2018, the Met Office Hadley Centre Climate Programme published an update to the UK Climate Projections 2009 (UKCP09). UK Climate Projections 2018 (UKCP18) are the most up to date assessment of how the UK climate might change throughout the 21st century. These projections will be incorporated at appropriate points in future flood risk management planning cycles.

1.4 Understanding the Social Impacts of Flooding

In 2016 the Scottish Government commissioned a 3 year research project through CREW (Centre of Expertise for Waters) to better understand the long term impacts of flooding for individuals, their families and communities. This will help us understand what types of support and advice people and communities need at different stages of a long-term recovery. The University of Aberdeen and the James Hutton Institute are conducting the study which involves surveys and repeated face to face interviews in 3 consecutive years with residents in Ballater and Garioch who were affected by the widespread flooding in the winter of 2015/16.

The study started in 2017 with a household survey, a business survey and in-depth interviews. A short report summarising Year 1 activities and key findings was published by CREW in early 2018

Year one surveys and interviews importantly confirmed that two thirds of respondents from flooded homes were unable to return to their own homes for more than six month after the flooding. Also more than half of the respondents who used temporary accommodation stayed in more than one place whilst out of their own homes and the number of temporary places used increased with the length of time respondents were unable to return to their own home. In some cases residents moved 5 times. Respondents were asked about the impacts the event had on their physical health and 60% reported a deterioration in physical health.

A final report will be available in early 2020.


Email: Gordon Robertson

Back to top