Responsibilities for flooding

You are the first line of defence against flooding, however public bodies have responsibilities too and together we are working towards reducing the overall impacts of flooding in Scotland. Find out more about all of our responsibilities for flooding:

Your responsibilities

It is your responsibility to manage your own flood risk and protect yourself, your family, property and business. Being prepared by knowing what to do and who to contact if flooding happens, can help you reduce the damage and disruption flooding can have on your life.

The first step to being prepared is signing up to Floodline so you can receive messages to let you know where and when flooding is likely to happen. Other useful tools and advice on how to be prepared are available on the Floodline website including a quick guide to who to contact in the event of a flood.

You can also check how your area could be affected by flooding by looking at our flood maps.

Affordable home insurance for eligible properties which are at risk of flooding is now available through Flood Re. Flood Re is a joint government and insurance industry initiative which was launch in April 2016. You can find out more on the Flood Re website.


SEPA is Scotland’s national flood forecasting and flood warning authority. We deliver Floodline, which provides live flooding information and advice on how to prepare for or cope with the impacts of flooding 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. To help us forecast for flooding we work closely with the Met Office.

SEPA is also the strategic flood risk authority and has produced Scotland's first ever Flood Risk Management Strategies. We work closely with other organisations responsible for managing flood risk including local authorities, Scottish Water, the National Park Authorities and Forestry Commission Scotland through a network of partnerships and stakeholder groups to ensure that a nationally consistent approach to flood risk management is adopted.

SEPA also has a duty to provide flood risk advice to land use planning in Scotland when requested, but it is essential to note that your council is the planning authority, not SEPA.

SEPA aims to raise awareness of flooding at a national level through education initiatives, community engagement and an annual campaign to promote the useful advice and information available through Floodline. We work in partnership with local authorities, Neighbourhood Watch Scotland, Ready Scotland and others to share our resources and help to promote preparedness and understanding of how we manage flood risk in Scotland.

Local authorities

Local authorities are responsible for producing Scotland’s first Local Flood Risk Management Plans and work in partnership with SEPA, Scottish Water and other responsible authorities to develop these. Local authorities also consult with local organisations through flood risk management local advisory groups to raise awareness, capture local knowledge and share information about flooding.

It is the responsibility of your local authority to implement and maintain flood protection actions, as outlined in the Local Flood Risk Management Plans. Local authorities also inspect, clear and repair watercourses (as part of an ongoing schedule) to reduce flood risk and routinely maintain road gullies on roads adopted by the local authority.

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

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.

Scottish Water

Scottish Water is responsible for the drainage of surface water from roofs and paved ground surfaces within a property boundary. Scottish Water can help to protect properties from flooding caused by overflowing or blocked sewers. To report a flooding incident which appears to be contaminated with sewage please phone the Scottish Water Customer Helpline on 0800 0778 778. To find out more about waste water flooding please visit the Scottish Water website.

Scottish Water is a responsible authority for flood risk management and is working closely with SEPA, local authorities and other responsible authorities to develop Scotland's first nationally co-ordinated plans to manage flood risk.

Scottish Government

The Scottish 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. Scottish Ministers are responsible for setting the policy framework for implementing how we manage flooding in Scotland and will ultimately be responsible for approving the objectives and actions set out in the Flood Risk Management Strategies.

The Scottish Government also contributes to projects and initiatives to raise awareness of flooding, share information on how to be prepared and help us to understand more about the sources and impacts of flooding.

National Park Authorities

The two National Park Authorities in Scotland, Loch Lomond & Trossachs National Park and Cairngorms National Park, were designated as responsible authorities in 2012 following consultation by the Scottish Government. The National Park Authorities work with SEPA, local authorities and Scottish Water to help develop Flood Risk Management Strategies and Local Flood Risk Management Plans. They also play an important role in land use planning, thereby carrying out activities and granting permission for activities that can play a key role in managing and reducing flood risk.

Forestry Commission Scotland

Designated in 2012 alongside the National Park Authorities as a responsible authority, Forestry Commission Scotland is also engaging with SEPA, local authorities and Scottish Water to develop Flood Risk Management Strategies and Local Flood Risk Management Plans. Forestry may play a significant role in managing flooding and other powers and duties Forestry Commission Scotland has compliments the approach implemented by the Flood Risk Management (Scotland) Act 2009.

Met Office

The Met Office provides a wide range of forecasts and weather warnings. SEPA and the Met Office work together through the Scottish Flood Forecasting Service.

Emergency services

The 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.