Alexander Burnett MSP reminds me that it has been some time since the BBC Scotland ten-part series, ‘Soaked to the Skin in Skene’ which accused the SNP of abandoning the folk of Aberdeenshire to flooding on a biblical scale.
Here’s Burnett’s attempt to get the fear flooding back into Grampian minds:
Unsurprisingly, Burnett’s question reminds me of the warm dry glow I got from writing about more accurate news at the time.
In October 2016, I was able to write:
As far as flood protection is concerned, unlike in England, the 1 in 200 year standard of protection is ‘universal’ for all new buildings, with a 1,000 year standard for such vulnerable uses as old people’s homes, schools, hospitals etc.. In addition, construction in flood hazard areas has almost completely ended. Crichton (2003: 26) estimates that “the active flood management programme currently in progress will result in almost all high risk properties being protected against the 200-year flood within the next three years, taking climate change into account.” It is also interesting to note that the Scottish Executive grants for flood defences have never been refused on the grounds of budget restraints and there is no rationing of flood defence spending.
It is clear, however, that the more stringent building standards which are applied in Scotland ensure that severe storms result in much less property damage than comparable events in England. Also the level of flood protection and the commitment of funding to achieve flood protection are higher in Scotland than in England.’
More recently, with SNP leadership, the favourable comparison still seems to hold. Published research from the esteemed Joseph Rowntree Foundation, in 2012, seems to support my first impressions quite strongly:
‘Where English planning regulations permit building in flood plains where there is no alternative, Scottish Planning Policy does not permit building in areas in which ‘the flood risk exceeds the 200-year return period’, i.e. where in any year there is a greater than 0.5 per cent probability of flooding. Scotland has stronger regulations governing the capacity of sewage and drainage systems for new building. It also has stronger minimum standards for flood defences. Building regulations ensuring flood resilience in the housing stock are more developed. Scottish planners, through Flood Liaison and Advice Groups, are engaged with local communities, the emergency services, insurers and other interested parties in drawing up flood plans. The differences in regulatory regimes between England and Scotland are reflected in the number of households that are at risk of flooding, and the resilience of communities in responding to those risks.’
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