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Last Updated: Wednesday, 13 February 2008, 15:23 GMT
Flood protection upgrade planned
Sandbags
The government said global warming was causing more flooding
Plans to upgrade flood protection across Scotland have been unveiled by Environment Minister Mike Russell.

A consultation is due to last until 23 April and the government plans to introduce a draft bill to the Scottish Parliament later in the year.

The Scottish Government believes that climate change means current flood defence arrangements are no longer fit for the 21st Century.

New legislation will aim to create a more "joined up" approach to flooding.

This consultation is an opportunity for everyone to contribute on the way forward for flood risk management in Scotland.
Mike Russell
Environment Minister

More than 70 flood prevention schemes have been built in the 47 years since the original legislation was passed.

Speaking at Galston, which was hit by major floods in 1999, the minister said: "By streamlining the flood risk management process, we aim to ensure that a modern and sustainable approach is in place across Scotland.

"This will help to simplify and speed up flood protection measures. This consultation is an opportunity for everyone to contribute on the way forward for flood risk management in Scotland."

Submissions made during the consultation process will include evidence given to MSPs by the Met Office. It said only half of Scotland was covered by the radar which can forecast localised downpours, compared to 95% of England and Wales.

Tory environment spokesman John Scott MSP welcomed the consultation and stressed that urgent action was required.

He said: "Legislation desperately requires updating, whilst a lead person or group must be identified to co-ordinate whole river catchment plans and coastal defence strategies.

"This piece of work is long overdue and must move forward swiftly," he added.

Rainfall patterns

RSPB Scotland said it would be taking part in the consultation exercise and would be closely examining the government's proposals.

Andrea Johnstonova, the RSPB's freshwater policy officer, said: "We welcome the government's commitment to sustainable flood management, which is long overdue for Scotland.

"This is especially important given that rainfall patterns are predicted to change, including some significant increases due to climate change".

She said flood management should no longer be about hard flood defences.

Flooding in the Borders
The Borders was badly affected by flooding in 2005

Part of the solution must be to work with nature rather than against it, she said.

This could be done by promoting natural flood management such as the restoration of uplands, wetlands and re-connecting rivers to their floodplains, Ms Johnstonova added.

She said this allows rivers to function in a more natural way, helping to manage flooding by storing and slowing the flow of water, while also creating wetland habitats for birds and other wildlife.



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SEE ALSO
Lochhead in flood prevention call
20 Sep 07 |  Scotland
Up to 100,000 homes at flood risk
10 Sep 07 |  Scotland
'Sustainable' flood defences call
08 Sep 07 |  Scotland
Human impact of flooding revealed
02 Apr 07 |  Scotland
Flood prevention cash 'not spent'
20 Feb 07 |  Scotland
Scotland hit by severe flooding
04 Dec 06 |  Scotland

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