Section 1 Introduction and background
Purpose of the Annual report
On 13 May 2009, the Scottish Parliament passed the most significant change to flooding legislation in 50 years - the Flood Risk Management (Scotland) Act 2009 ( FRM Act). The FRM Act, which came into force on 16 June 2009, creates a new and more sustainable approach to assessing and managing flooding across Scotland, while also bringing into law the European Directive on the Assessment and Management of Flood Risk (Floods Directive).
The FRM Act requires that an annual report on progress should be submitted before the Scottish Parliament. This document is the first such report and focuses on the progress made by the Scottish Government, Scottish Environment Protection Agency ( SEPA), local authorities and Scottish Water in implementing the FRM Act and securing compliance with the Floods Directive during 2009. As the FRM Act is a piece of umbrella legislation that consolidates statutory responsibilities for managing flooding, the annual report provides information on a wide range of flood management initiatives.
Flooding - the Scottish context
Flooding can have serious effects on health and wellbeing, homes and businesses and the environment. Flooding can also affect transport infrastructure and cause major disruption to vital services. According to the most recent flood maps 1 almost 100,000 properties in Scotland are at risk of flooding from rivers or the sea. Flooding may also arise from groundwater and from overland flow and sewers overflowing. Both can be a consequence of intense rainfall.
In the latter half of 2009, Scotland experienced a number of flooding incidents. The September floods in Grampian and Tayside were, in places, the worst experienced in 20 years. In early November, Aberdeenshire bore the brunt of widespread localised flooding, and in late November flooding affected much of Southern and Central Scotland, including the community of Whitesands in Dumfries.
A number of damaging floods have occurred in Scotland in recent years: Perth 1993, East Dunbartonshire 1994, Edinburgh 2000, Elgin 1997 and 2002, Glasgow 2002 and Hawick 2005. The following examples illustrate the effects of flooding. The River Lossie and Elgin in North East Scotland have well documented histories of flooding. In 1997 and 2002 severe flood events inundated up to 600 residential and 170 commercial properties and disrupted transport infrastructure and estimated to have caused combined damages in excess of £100 million.
Continuous heavy rainfall in October 2005 caused widespread flooding across Southern Scotland. At its peak, 26 flood watches, 16 flood warnings and one severe flood warning were in place. Flows on the Teviot Water were the highest since records began in 1963, and in mid October 2005 the collapse of a wall by the river in Hawick led to inundation of around 100 households and 30 small businesses.
Climate change - what it means for flooding in Scotland
Climate change is evident in Scotland from observed trends in temperature, rainfall and snow cover. Average temperatures have risen more than 1°C since 1961. Average winter rainfall in some northern and western areas has increased by up to 60%, but conversely summers are now up to 45% drier.
The UK Climate Impacts Programme has formulated scenarios to look at possible future climate change, dependent on predicted future global greenhouse emissions. This research provides Scotland with the best available information on predicted changes in climate and indicates that, over the coming decades, Scotland will experience more severe rainfall events in winter, particularly in the east of the country. 2
Central estimate of change in mean winter rainfall under a medium emission scenario, UK Climate Impacts Programme 2009
THE FRM Act - a new approach to managing flooding in Scotland
The FRM Act is the most significant change to flooding legislation in Scotland in 50 years. The main aim of the FRM Act is to deliver timely and sustainable approaches to reducing the impact of flooding to Scotland's communities, environment, cultural heritage and economy. Managing flooding sustainably means moving away from reactive management of flooding towards a proactive and catchment focused approach.
The catchment approach to managing flooding
The FRM Act makes substantive provision in five policy areas:
- coordination and cooperation in all aspects of flood risk management;
- assessment of flood risk and preparation of flood risk management plans, including transposing the EC Floods Directive (2007/60/ EC) (the Floods Directive)
- amendments to local authority and SEPA functions for flood risk management; including SEPA's flood warning duties and local authorities powers to tackle flooding;
- a revised statutory process for flood protection schemes; and
- creation of a more uniform approach to the enforcement of the Reservoirs Act 1975.
Ministers are responsible for setting the policy framework for implementing the FRM Act and will be responsible for issuing Ministerial Guidance on what it means to manage flood risk sustainably. Ministers will also be responsible for approving the national assessment of areas vulnerable to flooding and the objectives and measures set out in Flood Risk Management Plans.
Under the FRM Act, a number of organisations must come together to assess, plan and deliver measures to manage flood risk. The overall aim is to reduce the flood risks facing Scottish communities and businesses, and to do so in a way that protects our natural and economic resources for future generations.
The preparation and implementation of plans to manage flooding will be at the heart of future efforts to tackle flooding. The FRM Act sets out a clear flood risk management planning process that will ensure that long-term and nationally focused objectives are balanced against local knowledge and priorities. To support this work, the FRM Act creates a tiered, but fully integrated, approach to preparing plans. The process centres on two closely linked sets of plans:
- SEPA will be responsible for district Flood Risk Management Plans (district plans) that will set the national and strategic framework for flood risk management in Scotland. These plans will identify, prioritise and coordinate objectives and measures across Scotland. This information will help set the framework in which measures to manage flood risk will be delivered or planned for at a local level. These plans will also fulfil the reporting requirements of the Directive.
- Local authorities will be responsible for local flood risk management plans (local plans) that will supplement and influence the district plans. Local plans must be consistent with the district plans, but will include additional, locally relevant information, including additional details of particular measures. All local plans must be accompanied by an implementation strategy setting out how the measures described in the local plan will be delivered.
The preparation and coordination of these plans will require SEPA, local authorities and others to work in close partnership and the expectation is for a two-way interaction between each set of plans. For instance, all district level planning will need to be undertaken in consideration of locally derived information, including information on flood risk and the suitability of measures; equally, all local planning will need to reflect national priorities set out in the district plan.
The first set of plans must be prepared by December 2015, and the plans must be reviewed every six years. However, planning will not simply focus on each six year cycle; instead the plans will need to set out a road map to addressing current and future flooding risk. This means that the plans will need to set out the long-term direction for flood risk management (up to 50 year plans), while also identifying actions that can be undertaken within each six year cycle.
The FRM Act sets out a series of clear milestones leading to the preparation and implementation of flood risk management plans, some of which are set by the Floods Directive (Table 1).
Table 1 Summary of key deadlines set out in the FRM Act
Transpose EC Floods Directive
Identify units of management for district flood risk management plans and the competent authority
Issue Ministerial guidance on managing flooding in a sustainable way
Issue Ministerial guidance on assessing impacts to society, the economy, the environment and cultural heritage
Produce an assessment of flood risks across Scotland and identify areas most vulnerable to flooding
Publish maps of flooding extents and depths and associated impacts
Publish an assessment of where changes to land management could help reduce flood risk
Publish a statement on steps to engage with the public and stakeholders when preparing flood risk management plans
Publish draft district flood risk management plans setting out objectives and measures to address flood risks across Scotland
Publish draft local flood risk management plans
Publish final district flood risk management plans
Publish final local flood risk management plans
Publish implementation plans for delivering all measures set out in local flood risk management plans
Cycle repeated and second set of plans published. Plans and assessments reviewed and published every 6 years thereafter.