The effective implementation of the Scottish Government’s new plans to manage flood risk is under threat due to a lack of skilled staff, according to the Rural Affairs and Environment Committee.
The finding is highlighted in the Committee’s Stage 1 report on the Flood Risk Management (Scotland) Bill, published today, and stems from evidence of a shortage of specialists with an understanding of Scotland’s river and coastal environments.
Committee Convener Roseanna Cunningham MSP said: “Committee members are all too aware of the devastating effects flooding can have on people’s lives and also of the increased chance of flooding in Scotland as a result of climate change.
“Having made recommendations to the Scottish Government in May which have been largely accepted, we broadly support this new approach to flood risk set out in the Bill.
“However we are extremely concerned that plans to assess flood risk across Scotland could be delayed due to a shortage of staff with relevant experience and the knock-on effects this could have. The evidence we have taken suggests that insufficient planning has gone into ensuring the availability of appropriately qualified individuals in numbers which will allow the work to progress as we would hope.”
The Committee also raised serious concerns about the fact that local authorities will not receive specifically targeted funding for flood prevention and said this could have a negative impact on the construction of large-scale flood protection schemes in the future.
Elsewhere in the document the Committee also called for:
- a national strategy setting out priorities for tackling flood risk and the associated costs;
- flood risk assessments for all new planning proposals;
- stronger provisions in the bill to ensure a cultural shift takes place towards more sustainable and natural flood management techniques; and
- Government guidance on security issues relating to reservoir plans that show the location of drinking water supplies.
The Rural Affairs and Environment Committee conducted an inquiry into Flooding and Flood Management which concluded with a report published in May 2008.
The Flood Risk Management (Scotland) Bill was introduced to the Scottish Parliament on 29 th September 2008.