It is important to remember that flooding can happen at any time, so we work closely with our partners to promote flood preparedness and build community resilience throughout the year. We have also increased to £190,000 this year our funding to the Scottish Flood Forum, which provides vital support before, during and after flooding to communities across Scotland. I encourage those who are at risk of flooding to keep informed by signing up to receive flood alerts and warnings through the Scottish Environment Protection Agency’s floodline service.
Yesterday, the Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform Committee heard from the Committee on Climate Change that flood mitigation plans and infrastructure development need to plan for a scenario of an increase in global temperatures of 3° to 4°. Is the Government’s climate change adaptation plan working on that assumption? Is it planning for the effects of climate change, to which Scotland does not contribute but other places in the world do, taking place across all Government portfolios?
The five-year programme to help Scotland prepare for the impacts of climate change that was introduced to Parliament on 23 September addresses the priority risks for Scotland and follows advice provided by the Committee on Climate Change. The programme will work across a range of policy areas, including conducting an economic assessment of flood risk, and undertaking research into recovery from extreme weather events and climate impacts on social care. Obviously, a huge range of planning and housing issues are also affected. The work on planning for the effects of climate change therefore ranges over a significant number of portfolios.
Is the Scottish Government in dialogue with local authorities, Scottish Water and communities to take forward action to support sustainable urban drainage systems and an assessment of the development of urban creep in order to help minimise the effect of future flood incidents and develop community resilience?
That dialogue is almost constant. My officials, SEPA and local authorities are in constant conversation about those issues, because we are very conscious that more than one thing impacts flooding. Flooding is an understood consequence of climate change, but human activities that are not related to climate change can nevertheless exacerbate flooding and need to be addressed, too.
In the winter of 2015, after severe flooding, the First Minister committed to help my home town of Newton Stewart. However, it is only through the community’s incredible resilience and determination that the main street is returning to normal. Despite the First Minister’s promise four years ago, no flood prevention measures have been taken.
This Scottish Government has spent more and done more on flood protection than any previous Government. That has been brought about by an overall strategic approach to the issue that is agreed with local authorities, which is on-going. I invite Finlay Carson to indicate directly to me, if not to his local authority, what the local authority’s representations have been. I will be happy to engage with him on that.