Who Is Responsible

We are all responsible for protecting ourselves and our property from flooding

This means taking action to ensure we do all we can to help minimise risks and impacts to our land / property, or land / property belonging to others.

The complex nature of flooding, with many agencies responsible for different aspects of sewer and drainage systems in communities, means that a partnership approach is the best approach to tackle this challenge. Public bodies will do what they can to reduce the overall impacts of floods and ensure that, where possible, the risks are minimised.

Your responsibilities

In Scotland it is the owner's responsibility to protect a property from flooding.

This means taking responsibility to manage your own flood risk and protect yourself, your family, property and business.

Being prepared by knowing what your flood risk is, and what to do and who to contact if flooding happens, can help you reduce the damage and disruption flooding can have on your life. Floodline Scotland provides useful information about how to prepare for, react to and recover from flooding.

If you are a landowner, you may have specific responsibilities as the 'riparian' owner:-

  • To undertake maintenance and prevent deterioration of watercourses - including culverted watercourses that may run underneath your land;
  • To not increase the risk of flooding to others.

You can help your local authority to manage flooding by letting them know if debris is blocking watercourses or flood defences are tampered with.

The Scottish Government 

The Scottish Government is responsible for making national policy on planning, flood prevention and flood warning.

The Government oversees the implementation of the Flood Risk Management (Scotland) Act 2009 which established the requirement for Flood Risk Management Strategies and Local Flood Risk Management Plans to be produced.

The Scottish Government is also responsible for motorway and major trunk roads drainage through Transport Scotland.


SEPA is Scotland's national flood forecasting, flood warning and strategic flood risk management authority, and has a statutory duty to produce Scotland's Flood Risk Management Strategies and a responsibility to identify where in Scotland there is the potential for natural flood management techniques to be introduced.

SEPA also has a statutory role in relation to the provision of flood risk advice to planning authorities, but it is essential to note that your council is the planning authority, not SEPA.

Local Authorities

Local authorities have several roles relating to flooding as the local authority with powers and responsibilities for flood prevention as set out in the Flood Risk Management (Scotland) Act 2009 and other related legislation, as the Roads Authority and as the Planning Authority.

Local authorities are responsible for producing Local Flood Risk Management Plans and working in partnership with SEPA, Scottish Water and other responsible authorities to deliver these Plans. The Plans have been developed in parallel with the Flood Risk Management Strategies and provide more detail on how and when the actions from the strategy will be delivered locally.

Section 56 of the Flood Risk Management (Scotland) Act 2009 provides general powers to manage flood risk. A local authority may do anything which it considers will contribute to the implementation of actions in the Plan or is necessary to reduce the risk of a flood which is likely to occur imminently and have serious adverse consequences for human health, the environment, cultural heritage or economic activity in its area. In addition, local authorities may also be responsible for maintenance of existing flood protection schemes or defences.

Sections 18 and 59 of the Flood Risk Management (Scotland) Act 2009 places duties of watercourse inspection, clearance and repair on local authorities. Where any material has been placed on the bank of a watercourse or fallen into the watercourse, the local authority may serve notice on the landowner to remove such material if it presents an increased risk of flooding. If the landowner fails to remove the material within the stated period of time, the local authority may remove the material and recover the cost of removal from the landowner.

During severe flooding, local authorities will work with the emergency services and co-ordinate shelter for people evacuated from their homes. There is no requirement for local authorities to provide flood protection products, like sandbags, for your home although in some areas these may be available. Contact your local authority to find out more.

As the Roads Authority, local authorities are responsible for the drainage of local roads and public highways - including maintenance of road gullies.

As the Planning Authority, local authorities have the role of checking the adequacy or otherwise of development proposals in terms of surface water management and flooding.

Scottish Water 

Scottish Water has the public drainage duty and is responsible for the drainage of rainwater run-off from roofs and any paved ground surface within the property boundary. Private pipework or guttering within the property boundary remains the responsibility of the homeowner. Additionally, Scottish Water helps to protect homes from flooding caused by sewers either overflowing or becoming blocked.

Scottish Water is a responsible authority for flood risk management and works closely with SEPA, local authorities and other responsible authorities to coordinate plans to manage flood risk.

Developers / Housebuilders

Developers / Housebuilders should ensure that new developments (of more than one dwelling) comply with the requirements of the Water Environment (Controlled Activities) (Scotland) Regulations 2011 regarding the provision of SuDS.

Developers / Housebuilders should also ensure that homeowners are aware of SuDS in the development prior to making their purchase, and ensure that property owners are aware of their need to properly maintain any SuDS that have not been either adopted by the local authority or vested by Scottish Water.

Emergency Services

Emergency services provide emergency relief when flooding occurs and can co-ordinate evacuations. You should call the emergency services on 999 if you are concerned about your safety or the safety of others and act immediately on any advice provided.

For all enquiries, please email project.office@mgsdp.org