Page last updated at 13:14 GMT, Thursday, 26 June 2008 14:14 UK

'Sustainable' flood plan promised

Flooding in Elgin
The environment minister promised a new "sustainable" flood strategy

An overhaul of the way flooding is managed in Scotland has been promised by the environment secretary.

Richard Lochhead told MSPs there needed to be a more "modern" and "sustainable" approach.

Ministers want the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (Sepa) to have responsibility for national planning, working with other bodies.

A bill, introduced later this year, will also improve information about the risk and consequences of flooding.

Mr Lochhead said he wanted a "completely new approach to flood management in Scotland".

It will also continue to ensure that individuals and organisations, which may be directly affected, are allowed to object to proposals
Richard Lochhead
Environment Secretary

He said: "Co-operation and collaboration between bodies involved in flood risk management is absolutely essential and this will be one of the core elements of the flooding bill."

The legislation will include better information for the public on the risk and consequences of flooding from rivers, the sea, extreme rainfall and groundwater.

A new statutory process would also shorten the time taken to get approval for non-contentious flood prevention measures.

Mr Lochhead added: "In doing this it will also continue to ensure that individuals and organisations, which may be directly affected, are allowed to object to proposals."

MSPs were debating a report by Holyrood's environment committee, published earlier this year.

Committee convener Roseanna Cunningham said evidence from the Met Office's John Mitchell indicated that past climate was no longer a "safe guide" to the future.

Radar coverage

She said: "He also gave us a stark warning that there was little point trying to prevent flooding. Instead we would have to become better at managing flooding."

The Perth MSP also highlighted a lack of high resolution radar coverage which could give early warning of problems.

She said: "Only 50% of Scotland was covered, compared with 95% of England and Wales."

The Labour MSP Sarah Boyack claimed the Scottish Government's agreement with local authorities on how to tackle flooding was "opaque".

'Poor decisions'

She added: "Flooding is mentioned alongside schools, roads, waste management, the police estate and the fire and rescue service."

Liberal Democrat Mike Rumbles questioned whether Sepa was sufficiently independent of government to take on the role.

Conservative MSP Nanette Milne said poor planning decisions were still being made, and cited a development in Aberdeen which she said was in a high risk area.

Green MSP Robin Harper said parking regulations in Edinburgh could have an impact on flooding because it encouraged people to park in their gardens, rather than the street.

He said: "The increased run-off into our drains from that is going to produce increased flooding."


SEE ALSO
Heavy rainfall blamed for floods
20 Jun 08 |  Tayside and Central
Call for flood management plan
16 May 08 |  Scotland
Flood protection upgrade planned
13 Feb 08 |  Scotland

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