Roles and responsibilities

Many organisations  work together to manage flood risk in the Highlands. All organisations are placed under a duty to work together to reduce overall flood risk by the Flood Risk Management (Scotland) Act 2009.

Scottish Government

  • Setting National Policy on Flood Risk Management and Flood Warning
  • Setting Scottish Planning Policy
  • Provision of resources to enable authorities to address flood risk


  • Provide a flood warning service for Scotland and operate Floodline
  • Provide advice to Local Authorities on flood risk and planning
  • SEPA also have an important new role in the coordination of flood risk management policy and activities across Scotland.

The Highland Council

  • Preparation of maps of water bodies and SuDS
  • Assessing water bodies for conditions likely to pose a flood risk 
  • Undertake maintenance works in water bodies including the clearance of watercourses where the works will significantly reduce flood risk 
  • Maintenance of existing flood alleviation schemes 
  • Maintain road gullies - these are not designed to cope with extreme weather events but it is still important that they operate efficiently to avoid localized flooding. 
  • Planning and development management (with flood risk advice from SEPA) 
  • Working with the emergency services in response to severe flooding 
  • Coordinating reception centres for people evacuated from their homes and arrange temporary accommodation if appropriate 
  • Coordinating the aftermath of a flood 
  • Dealing with road closures (except on trunk roads) 
  • Preparation of local Flood Risk Management Plans (from 2012)

Scottish Water

  • Maintaining water supply and drainage infrastructure
  • Managing the discharge of surface water that enters the public drainage system 
  • Working in partnership with the local authority and emergency services 
  • Dealing with flood damaged mains and any flooding caused by bursts 
  • Liaising with SEPA, local authorities and the emergency services during a flood event to alleviate any flooding from public sewers

Scottish Water also have new responsibilities for reducing the risk of flooding from urban drainage and combined sewer flooding that can result from higher than usual rainfall overwhelming these systems. Actions to reduce surface water flooding in urban centres will be delivered in close working partnership with Local Authorities.

Police Scotland

  • Co-ordinate the actions of all agencies involved during the course of a major flood incident
  • Will control the scene at its outer limits by setting up cordon points and setting up a traffic management system in conjunction with the Local Authority 
  • Responsible for saving lives, co-ordinating evacuation and public information

Scottish Fire and Rescue Service

  • The Scottish Fire and Rescue service has a duty to save lives in the event of serious flooding
  • "Serious flooding" in this context means flooding that causes or is likely to cause one or more individuals to die, be seriously injured or become seriously ill and which results from natural causes or an escape of water

Met Office

  • Produces weather forecasts which help the UK public make informed decisions about day-today activities
  • Warns people of extreme weather to mitigate its impacts 
  • Provides dedicated forecasting services to SEPA's flood warning team

Transport Scotland

  • Gully (gutter and drain covers) maintenance for main roads
  • Main road closures

Scottish Flood Forum

  • Scottish Government supported organisation offering support and advice on flood protection, insurance, recovery, advice on establishing community flood groups and business continuity planning
  • Represents the interests of people affected by, or at risk of, flooding


  • Under law are primarily responsible for the maintenance of watercourses and other water bodies including repairs and clearing
  • Responsible for private flood defences on their land and maintenance of private drainage systems

Home owners

  • Responsible for protecting their property from flooding
  • Responsible for acquiring home contents and buildings insurance 
  • Responsible for taking action to prepare for flooding 
  • Responsible for maintaining private drainage, including gullies and drains on shared private access roads and courtyards