Water-resilient places - surface water management and blue-green infrastructure: policy framework

This paper outlines how surface water is currently managed in Scotland, sets out a vision for the future and describes the components that should be brought together to form a coherent framework that will support delivery of water resilient places.

Annex 1: Current Responsibilities for Surface Water Management in Scotland

Scottish Government

The Scottish Government is responsible for making national policy on planning and flood risk management including flood protection, natural flood management and flood warning. It is also responsible for drainage of motorway and major trunk roads, through its agency Transport Scotland.

The following organisations have duties and responsibilities to manage surface water and reduce the impacts of flooding:

Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA)

SEPA is Scotland’s national flood forecasting, flood warning authority and strategic flood risk management authority. SEPA produces Scotland's Flood Risk Management Strategies and works closely with other responsible organisations to ensure that a nationally consistent approach to flood risk management is adopted.

Scottish Water

Has the public drainage duty and is responsible for the drainage of rainwater run-off (surface water) from roofs, and any paved ground surface within the property boundary. Scottish Water can help protect homes from flooding caused by overflowing or blocked sewers.

Local Authorities

Local Authorities are responsible for the drainage of local roads and public highways and for providing flood protection and maintaining watercourses. This includes inspection, clearing and repair of watercourses to reduce flood risk and routine maintenance of road gullies on public roads and highways.

Local authorities are responsible for producing Scotland’s Local Flood Risk Management Plans and work in partnership with SEPA, Scottish Water and other responsible authorities to develop these.


Landowners are responsible for the management of surface water on their land and must ensure that run-off from their curtilage does not cause flooding problems to their neighbours.


Individuals are responsible for managing their own flood risk and protecting themselves, their family, property or business.



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