National flood risk action plan unveiled to ‘protect more homes’

First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon talks to Newton Stewart residents . Picture: Getty
First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon talks to Newton Stewart residents . Picture: Getty
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Scotland’s first national action plan to protect flood-risk areas from future deluges has been unveiled by environment minister Aileen McLeod.

The £235 million Flood Risk Management plan is aimed at protecting 10,000 properties after the devastation caused by heavy downpours in recent week in the North-east and Dumfries and Galloway.

It came as the under-fire chairman of the Environment Agency in England and Wales quit last night. Sir Philip Dilley had been criticised for not returning from a family holiday in Barbados during the recent floods. He said the decision to resign was because “expectations of the role have expanded to require the chairman to be available at short notice throughout the year”, something he felt was “inappropriate”.

The Scottish Government has also faced criticism in recent days for its slow response in dispensing emergency funding support to families and firms worst hit by the flooding. But First Minister Nicola Sturgeon unveiled a £12m support package on a visit to Kintore in Aberdeenshire at the weekend.

And Ms McLeod yesterday set out plans for the Flood Risk Management plan. It contains 14 local strategies and proposals for 42 flood protection schemes or engineering works planned over the next five years.

“Our plan is designed to improve the way we tackle the risk of flooding across the country – protecting more homes, businesses, communities and livelihoods,” the minister said.

“For the first time, we have a nationwide plan, informed by local communities to tackle flooding.

“This will be at the heart of our efforts to prevent flooding and there is no doubt it will make a lasting contribution to flood risk management in Scotland.”

Terry A’Hearn, chief executive of the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (Sepa), said last December 2015 was the wettest on record.

“The Flood Risk Management strategies have been developed to help reduce the damage which flooding can cause, and are more important than ever given the recent flooding,” he said.

“We have been working closely with local authorities to identify the most suitable actions to manage flood risk, and this is targeted towards areas where it will be most effective based on improved knowledge of the sources and impacts of flooding.

“The strategies co-ordinate the efforts of organisations that tackle flooding and concentrate this work to where the risk of flooding and the benefits of investment are greatest.”