Page last updated at 12:56 GMT, Thursday, 26 November 2009

New flood laws unveiled after record rainfall

The environment minister has visited the Whitesands to see the flood damage

New laws to deal with Scottish flooding have been announced by Environment Minister Roseanna Cunningham.

She visited the Whitesands in Dumfries to see the damage caused by the region's wettest month on record.

Dozens of businesses were affected in the town, with many rural parts of Dumfries and Galloway also submerged.

One of the key elements of the new act will be a national flood risk assessment to identify the most vulnerable parts of the country.

Co-ordinated flood management plans will also be drawn up by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (Sepa) and local authorities.

It will help us deal with the causes not just the consequences of flooding
Dr Richard Dixon
WWF Scotland director

In addition, continued improvements will be sought to Sepa's flood warning service.

The act also aims to streamline the process for putting in place flood prevention and protection schemes.

Scottish government approval will no longer be needed if there is local consensus.

Ms Cunningham said: "I have seen for myself today the devastating impact that flooding can have.

"With climate change likely to increase the frequency of floods, we need to do what we can now to prevent flooding occurring, as well as having procedures in place to protect communities when it does.

"This landmark legislation, which arrives on the eve of the Copenhagen Summit, represents a huge step forward in the battle against flooding."

However, Dumfries and Galloway Labour MP Russell Brown said people affected by flooding would be "disappointed" by the legislation.

'Rehashed announcement'

"The minister's announcement was nothing new," he said.

"These laws won't actually stop the Whitesands from flooding again and posing a continued threat to the homes and businesses which have been hit really hard in the last week."

He said people had wanted a commitment to fund a major flood prevention scheme not a "rehashed announcement".

But the legislation has been welcomed by Dr Richard Dixon, director of WWF Scotland.

"It will help us deal with the causes not just the consequences of flooding," he said.

"Climate change will result in our winters becoming wetter - bringing more of the kind of flooding misery we have seen in recent weeks."

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