Helping communities prepare more powerfully for flooding

date14 March 2018

As the piles of snow left over from “the Beast from the East” melted last week, causing surface water and rising rivers in several communities across Scotland, attention turned to the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA).

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But as the national flood forecasting, flood warning and strategic flood risk management authority SEPA is focussed on flooding all year round, and two events today highlight this year-round work.

Partnership working

SEPA is supporting today’s launch of the natural flood management (NFM) network Scotland, an online portal which will provide a dedicated forum for practitioners and members of the public to share knowledge and best practice on natural flood management. It was launched by the James Hutton Institute at the Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management’s (CIWEM) conference in Edinburgh.

SEPA works closely with communities and partner agencies, including local authorities, to improve understanding of natural flood management techniques that restore and enhance the natural features of a river to manage the sources and pathways of floodwaters.

One example is the Tweed Forum-led Eddleston Water project of which SEPA is a partner. Its main aim is to reduce the risk of flooding to the local community by restoring some natural river features. The work will also improve the natural habitat for wildlife and fisheries, and the project has been working with landowners and communities to maximise the benefits for them.

SEPA Chief Executive, Terry A’Hearn, said:

“SEPA works every day to help Scotland be better prepared for future increased flooding. We have all seen the devastating impact flooding can have on individuals, businesses and communities, requiring a co-ordinated response with many partner organisations.

“The new NFM network Scotland portal will benefit anyone who is interested in natural flood management, allowing experts and individuals to share knowledge, research and experience – helping us all to find innovative ways of managing flood risk.”

Working with partners, SEPA’s new National Flood Risk Assessment outlining Potentially Vulnerable Areas will be going out for public consultation at the beginning of May. Responses will help to identify areas most at risk of being affected by flooding in Scotland. This will go on to inform future flood risk management plans which will be published in 2021.

The Environment Agency (England) also launched its ‘Working with Natural Processes Evidence Base’, which SEPA has contributed towards, at the conference. This information will be available on the new portal.

Kirkconnel Flood Warning Area

Today also sees the launch of a new local Flood Warning Area in Kirkconnel in Dumfries and Galloway.

Developed in partnership with Dumfries and Galloway Council, it will give people who live, work and travel through Kirkconnel the opportunity to benefit from advanced flood warnings – giving them time to take action to reduce the damage and disruption that flooding can cause.

The new warning area will increase the number of local flood warnings to 16 across Dumfries and Galloway.

Everyone who lives in the new area has been sent information on how to sign up and invited along to a drop-in event hosted by SEPA and Dumfries and Galloway Council to find out more.

If you would like to sign up to Floodline to receive Flood Alerts or Warnings for your area you can do do online or phone on 0345 988 1188.



Notes to editors

As the national flood forecasting, flood warning and strategic flood risk management authority, SEPA helps Scotland reduce its flood impacts in a number of ways.

  • Through the Scottish Flood Forecasting Service we issue a daily Flood Guidance Statement to over 540 emergency responders in 135 organisations.

  • Improving our Floodline service of free, advanced flood warnings by phone or text, for coastal and river flooding and increasing the number of people using the service, with over 26,000 direct customers, and hundreds of thousands accessing it online.

  • Developing flood warning schemes, increasing the number of areas of Scotland covered by local flood warnings so people can understand what steps they can take to protect themselves from the impacts of flooding.

  • Continuing to develop our flood maps with the most up to date information to help local authorities and other partners and the public be more aware of flooding and flood risk.

  • Developing ways to predict surface water flooding and trialling approaches to provide advanced warning when it does.

  • Targeting investment and action in the areas that will derive the greatest benefit from intervention based on our long term plans set out in Flood Risk Management Strategies.

  • Working with partners to identify opportunities to restore and enhance the natural features of the land to help manage flood risk.

  • Providing advice to planning authorities on flood risk with the overall aim of reducing flood risk.