Summer floods spur Scotland wide planning group
News release from Adaptation Scotland
Last summer the Scottish Borders area suffered extreme rainfall, which resulted in flooding in areas well away from rivers. The Council, with the support of Adaptation Scotland, has now mobilised a group of local authorities to plan for extreme weather and climate change impacts.
Flooding is estimated to cost the Scottish economy over £700m per year. The cost of increased flooding is only one of the effects of climate change felt by local councils.
Representing areas from the Aberdeenshire to Scottish Borders, ten local authorities and key agencies are now forming a climate risk and adaptation support group to learn from each other how to plan most effectively. The group will explore how local authorities can assess their climate risks, cope with uncertainties and balance these risks with competing pressures in a tight local economy.
The idea for the climate risk group came from Jim Fraser, Emergency Planning Officer at Scottish Borders Council. Mr Fraser said: ‘”Within our own local authority area we activated our emergency arrangements on a number of occasions to deal with last year’s flooding. The flooding in Jedburgh in August was declared a 'Major Incident' by the Police, meaning lives could have been lost. This was a result of the exceptional level of rain that fell within a very short period of time.”
Being better prepared can reduce the number of costly emergency operations. Mr Fraser added: “It can be a hard sell to justify spending money to prepare for climate risks in the future. But, as several Scottish Local Authorities know, the cost of repairing the damage can be much higher. I wanted to set up a project group with other Scottish local authorities to allow us to support and assist each other to tackle this challenge.
The first group meeting was held on 11 July and was facilitated by Adaptation Scotland, the Scottish Government-funded programme managed by Sniffer. Adaptation Scotland helps Scotland’s public and private sector – as well as communities – to prepare for the impacts of climate change.
Anna Beswick, Adaptation Scotland Manager, said: “Climate change is already affecting Scotland. Forming this group highlights the demand for support to help respond to current risks and prepare for the changes that we will face in the years ahead. The work that comes out of this group will be interesting for local authorities across Scotland and further afield. There is a great deal of progressive work happening and we must learn from this.”
Analysis of local authorities’ work through the Scottish Climate Change Declarations shows that councils are beginning to formally assess their climate-related risks. Aberdeenshire Council has developed a corporate level climate change risk register, while Highland Council and Edinburgh City Council have written climate change adaptation strategies.
The group’s discussions will inform Adaptation Scotland’s updated Public Sector Adaptation Workbook, a resource which helps public sector organisations plan for climate risks.
Ms Beswick added: “The combination of more frequent disruptive weather events over the last few years and a legal duty to prepare for climate change via the Climate Change Scotland Act – as well as the Scottish Climate Change Adaptation Programme currently out for consultation – means public bodies in Scotland must find ways to increase the resilience of their infrastructure and services. They must work with others to help prepare for the impacts of climate change. This will save money and keep communities safe.”
Read more about Adaptation Scotland's risk assessment training