Headlines: March 21st, 2003

Scottish local councils should continue to deliver flood prevention and fulfill coast protection duties, but a report says strategic support needs to be improved and full funding must be provided to allow them to carry out the tasks properly. It also urges the Scottish Parliament to confirm that responsibility for existing Sustainable Urban Drainage Systems lies with Scottish Water.The recommendations are made in the final report from the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities’ Flooding Task Group. Other key suggestions are that the Scottish Executive should take a proactive strategic leadership role in flooding issues to support and work in partnership with local authorities and other bodies.

The reports says all councils with a coastline should prepare Shoreline Management Plans to help prevent unforeseen coastal flooding but that additional resources will be required for the councils to do this.  The Flooding Task Group was made up of representatives from COSLA and member authorities and received full co-operation from the Association of British Insurers, the Scottish Environment Protection Agency, the Scottish Executive and Scottish Water. Councillor Mike Rumney, who led the group said: “In recent years there have been more frequent flood events, not statistically unusual in themselves but perhaps heralding the onset of the globally predicted climate change.” Perth, Paisley, Elgin, Edinburgh, Dumfries, Kilmarnock and Kirkintilloch had all suffered serious flooding and that had raised public awareness of the economic and personal effects of flooding, in turn focusing attention on the need to review and clarify the roles and duties of all the responsible bodies.

Councillor Rumney said the fact that insurance companies were also reviewing flood cover for properties in areas thought to be at risk, would raise expectations for preventative measures to be taken. He said new legislation and new ways of working were currently under development and it was right that COSLA should consider the experience gained since 1996 by local councils, and draw some conclusions on where improvements could be made.