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 3: Primary and supporting recommendations and key messages.

The following tables highlight the five primary recommendations and their supporting recommendations.

Please note supporting recommendations are presented in numerical order. I.e. not in order of priority.

Key message

Transition to blue-green cities

Primary recommendation

R1 A vision for blue-green cities for Scotland should be established.

Supporting recommendations

R2 A strategy and route map should be set out supported by the key policy changes that are required to drive the transition to blue-green cities and water resilience. 

R16 Scottish Government should establish a strategic stakeholder group dedicated to promoting and supporting the transition towards blue-green places and water resilience.

R19 Scottish Government should consider how our transition to blue-green places will be funded and where new sources of sustainable finance from a wider range of beneficiaries can be accessed to support the vision.

R20 Funding of blue-green infrastructure and water resilience should come from a broader base of public and private contributors reflecting the wide-ranging benefits it provides.

Key message

Supporting positive flooding and drainage actions and minimising harms

Primary recommendation

R3 Scotland should channel support towards actions that contribute to creating great places that are resilient to future flooding and drainage challenges, and away from activities that add to our future flooding and drainage burden. 

Supporting recommendations

R5 Relevant decision makers, including public bodies as part of their climate adaptation duties, should take account of flooding and drainage within their climate planning. (Public sector bodies are legally required to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and support Scotland's adaptation to a changing climate.)

R6 Climate impact assessments applying to public policies/activities should include assessing the impact of the proposed policy/activity on water resilience. i.e. Considering if the activity adds to flooding and drainage issues, helps manage flooding and drainage or has no effect on flooding and drainage.

R7 A guidance and support package should be made available to policy makers and investment decision makers to give them the tools to maximise water resilience and success for their activities. This should include a tool to assess whether their activity has a negative, positive or neutral effect on our water resilience.

R8 The land-use planning process (development planning and development management) should include a requirement for all sites/development proposals to be assessed and report on how they will contribute positively to the climate emergency and water resilience.

R21 Public expenditure should always take into account how to make investments climate positive and water resilient positive.

Key message

Taking a placemaking approach

Primary recommendation

R4 We should take a placemaking approach to achieving blue-green cities and water resilience involving partners in the public and private sectors, the third sector, individuals and communities.

Supporting recommendation

R13 Place-making (and masterplanning) should establish blue-green infrastructure needs from the outset where planning authorities’ decisions are informed by a comprehensive water strategy where:

  • The natural infrastructure is defined;
  • Strategic flood risk and drainage assessments are carried out;
  • A blue-green structure plan is defined.

Key message

Improving coordination

Primary recommendation

R9 Surface water flooding issues should be solution-focused and addressed by coordinating across organisations and implementing the best integrated sustainable solution. (Overcoming current legislative responsibilities and debates about ownership and on-going maintenance.)

Supporting recommendations

R10 Working links between the flooding, water industry and climate policy teams in Scottish Government should be strengthened to improve coordination and encourage delivery of more and better blue-green actions.

R11 Guidance and support should be produced to allow flood risk management prioritisation to factor in the wider benefits of blue-green actions such that progress can be made across all sources of flooding. Current benefit/cost analysis techniques do not adequately account for "other" benefits and favour fluvial and coastal actions.

R12 How we measure our success in terms of reducing the impacts of flooding should be reviewed to encourage a wider range of actions. The current approach (Counting properties at risk and damages avoided) often favours fluvial and coastal protection schemes over surface water flooding management actions. This should include introducing new ways of accounting for the wider benefits that blue-green actions bring to health, wellbeing, economic prosperity and our natural environment.

R17 To support Recommendation 18 of the Infrastructure Commission for Scotland Key Findings Report, Scottish Government should consider how to bring together the quality, standards and value for money elements of flood risk management, coastal erosion and drainage actions, including how they are determined and regulated.

R18 Larger towns and cities should be encouraged to establish drainage partnerships to lead a coordinated drive towards blue-green cities and water resilience. Membership of the drainage partnerships should include senior leaders of relevant organisations empowered to make cross-sector strategic commitments.

Key message

Supporting "no more in - what's in out"

Primary recommendation

R14 The drainage of surface water from all new sites wherever practicable should be by blue-green infrastructure. Land for blue-green infrastructure should be a site pre-requisite and all designs should presume no rainwater connection to sewer.

Supporting recommendation

R15 It should be a priority for existing developed areas to remove as much surface water from sewers as possible through disconnection, retrofitting and diversion to blue green infrastructure. (Incentives and guidance should be put in place to support this).



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