Mapping Flood Disadvantage in Scotland 2015: Research Findings

This document summarises the main findings from the project Mapping Flood Disadvantage in Scotland 2015.


Flooding is already a significant issue in Scotland. In 2011 SEPA produced the first National Flood Risk Assessment (NFRA) for Scotland, which suggested that 1 in 22 of all residential properties in Scotland were at risk of flooding from any sources (coastal, river and surface water) considering the 1 in 200 years return period. Climate change is likely to exacerbate the frequency and severity of flooding in Scotland.

The impacts from flooding under the changing climate could disproportionately affect some sectors of society, because the ability of individuals and communities to cope with flooding differs. This has implications for social justice. In relation to flooding, this is about ensuring that people, both individually and collectively, have the ability to prepare for, respond to and recover from flood events. Tailored policy responses are urgently needed that consider the vulnerable groups who are the most likely to be affected by the impacts of climate change, including flooding.

Social vulnerability to flooding is understood as the degree to which people’s health and well-being would be negatively affected if they came into contact with flooding. Social vulnerability is a combination of:

  • Sensitivity – personal characteristics that increase the likelihood that flooding would have negative health and well-being impacts on people
  • Adaptive capacity – the ability of people to prepare for, respond to and recover after flooding, related mainly to their social and material situation
  • Enhanced exposure – the aspects of the physical environment, such as housing and presence of permeable surfaces, which accentuate or offset the severity of flooding

Flood disadvantage occurs where vulnerable communities coincide with areas which may be exposed to flooding.


Email: Carol Brown

Back to top