15 October 2012
The Minister, who was joined at the visit by Roseanna Cunningham, local MSP and Minister for Community Safety and Legal Affairs, also announced an improved flood warning system for the River Spey and Ruchil Water and a new coastal flood warning scheme for the Firth of Forth and Firth of Tay.
Following a number of recent flooding incidents across Scotland, the Minister was keen to meet and thank operational staff, discuss future developments in flood forecasting and warning and see the 'behind-the-scenes' activity which helps the country prepare for potential flood events.
SEPA's flooding specialists provided an insight into their roles and responsibilities during flood incidents and highlighted the benefits of the agency's free Floodline direct warning service. The Minister heard how the service aims to give those at risk valuable time to protect their families, homes and businesses, by providing advance warning of flooding direct to registered mobiles or landlines.
SEPA staff also gave presentations on other flooding related topics including partner and public engagement, the Flood Risk Management Act and new planning approach, and carried out an interactive demonstration of the Scottish Flood Forecasting Service (SFFS), which is a partnership between SEPA and the Met Office. There was also an informal Q&A session where the Minister, alongside SEPA Chairman, David Sigsworth, and Chief Executive, James Curran, discussed these topics.
Speaking of the visit Mr Wheelhouse said
Flooding can have serious effects on people, homes, businesses, agricultural land, livestock and health. We've experienced one of the wettest summers on record and climate change is expected to increase flood risk in future years, with greater frequency of the recent very heavy rain we have experienced the length and breadth of the country. That is why the Scottish Government is committed to tackling climate change and also reducing the damage and distress caused by flooding. We have invested record levels of funding in flood protection by local authorities and created a flood forecasting service for Scotland.
"I was delighted to visit the Scottish Flood Forecasting & Warning Centre to learn more about the vital work of SEPA. I was also pleased to hear about SEPA's planned improvements - better flood warning for the River Spey catchment and for the Ruchil Water catchment in Comrie as well as a new coastal flood warning scheme covering the Firth of Forth and Firth of Tay areas
"Having spoken with a number of chief executives of local authorities in recent weeks, I know that SEPA's flood forecasting work is greatly valued. I look forward to working closely with SEPA and partner organisations as we strive to develop and improve flood risk management services in order to reduce risks for communities across Scotland and support communities' response to local incidents."
James Curran, Chief Executive of the Scottish Environment Protection Agency, added: "We are very grateful and thank the Scottish Government for the funding of new and improved services.
As we've seen in the recent weeks and days, flooding can happen at any time of year and recent events have shown us why it's important that we're all as prepared as possible for these types of situations. As Scotland's flood warning authority, we have a responsibility to raise awareness of any potential flood risk and our dedicated team of specialists are on duty around the clock, along with partner organisations such as the Met Office and Scottish Government, to ensure the highest level service is provided.
"Members of the public also have a responsibility in protecting themselves, their homes and businesses, from flooding, so we would recommend that as many people as possible sign up to our Floodline service. Even if you don't think you're at risk, you never know when flooding might impact you."
Members of the public can access the latest flood updates for their area, and sign up to Floodline via the website or by calling 0845 988 1188.
Notes to Editor
- This year has been exceptionally wet, and in parts of Eastern Scotland July was the wettest on record. Met Office -www.metoffice.gov.uk/climate/uk/2012/summer.html
- SEPA's National Flood Risk Assessment (NFRA) has identified that around 125,000 properties at risk of flooding. This highlights the risk of flooding in Scotland and the need for all of us to be prepared at home, at work and when travelling.
- The Floodline direct warning service aims to give those at risk valuable time to take action and protect their families, homes and businesses. It provides advance warning of flooding direct to registered mobiles or landlines. Anyone – including those who live in, work or travel through areas at risk of flooding – can sign up to SEPA's free Floodline service and receive details on the likelihood and timing of any potential flooding threat. This ensures everyone in Scotland can get the benefit from SEPA's extensive flood forecasting expertise and monitoring networks.