Parliamentary Inquiry Calls For Government To Set Out 25 Year Flood Management Investment Plan

16/05/2008

A twenty-five year national, strategic ‘road-map’ for investment in flood management should be established by the Scottish Government says a parliamentary report published today by the Rural Affairs and Environment Committee.

The committee also calls for the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) to take the lead at a national level in Scotland’s flood risk management.

Committee Convener Roseanna Cunningham MSP said:

“We live in an era when climate change means that flooding is likely to become more common. It is vital therefore that society is as well protected as possible. Preventing all flooding is impossible, but it is essential that as a society we become better at managing it and part of that is being able to take a long-term strategic view.

“With the Scottish Government intending to introduce legislation on flood management later this year, our report sets out 26 recommendations which we believe, if adopted into law and practice, will make an important contribution towards managing and reducing the flood risks which Scotland will face.”

The committee’s recommendations include that:

  • SEPA should be given the role of competent authority and take the lead at a national level in flood risk management, with suitable further safeguards to its independence.
  • The Scottish Government sets out a national, strategic “road-map” for investment in flood management that looks forward over a period of at least 25 years, with provision for updating every parliamentary session.
  • The Scottish Government establishes further pilot studies to assess the contribution that natural flood management measures can make at a ‘catchment’ scale.
  • The Scottish Government takes steps to consider how it can educate members of the public at risk of flooding of how they can best protect themselves and their property.

On ‘pluvial’ flooding:

In contrast to ‘fluvial’ flooding (when rivers overtop their banks) and coastal flooding (when seas rise above the level of coast) the number of properties in Scotland at risk from pluvial flooding (when heavy rainfall exceeds the rate at which it can drain away) is not known.

Evidence to the committee demonstrated a lack of understanding of the risk posed by pluvial flooding. Accordingly, the committee recommends that the Scottish Government sets out the steps and funding that it considers necessary to address ‘pluvial’ flooding. In addition, the Committee believes that the Scottish Government should place significantly greater emphasis on pluvial flood management in setting future objectives for Scottish Water.

Catchment-based flood risk management:

The committee supports a catchment-based approach to flood risk management as the catchment (the area drained by a river) has to be the fundamental unit for understanding and managing flood risk.

The committee believes that existing legislation and a lack of congruence between catchments and local authority boundaries makes it difficult for flood risk to be managed optimally.

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