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Highlands and Islands Greens
Highlands and Islands Greens

Greens Welcome New Flood Warning System

Friday, January 19th, 2007

Coastal Communities to have Better Protection

Vulnerable coastal communities are finally to have better protection from flooding, following news that the Executive is setting up an early warning system, expected to go live next month. (1) The move follows intense lobbying by Green Highland & Islands MSP Eleanor Scott and campaigners on South Uist who raised the issue following the death of five members of the same family on the island in January 2005.

There is currently no national flood warning system in place to forewarn coastal communities of potential flood and storm events, and Greens argue that the Executive’s should develop such a system as a matter of urgency.  Furthermore, at present there are no data monitoring buoys or tidal measuring stations west of the Outer Hebrides.  Such stations are crucial to the accuracy of any national early warning system.  Ministers have now confirmed that SEPA (Scottish Environment Protection Agency) has been in discussion with Comhairle nan Eilean Siar and have agreed that they will work together on this issue.

Dr Scott said, “This is good news for communities that often find themselves facing very extreme weather with very little notice.  An early warning system will hopefully prevent any further tragedy, and help minimise any damage caused by flooding – this progress comes not a moment too soon.

“I know South Uist residents have been extremely concerned about this, and I’m glad we are finally seeing some meaningful action from the Executive.

“Of course, though this will help in the event of flooding, much more needs to be done to tackle climate change so that we do not see more and more extreme weather events.  In this regard, the Executive is failing miserably by building more roads, supporting airport expansion and giving only half-hearted support to the renewable energy industry.  Only when climate emissions are significantly slashed, will the long-term interest of coastal and inland communities across Scotland be protected.”

Notes

1.

SCOTTISH PARLIAMENT

WRITTEN ANSWER

19 January 2007

Index Heading: Environment and Rural Affairs Department

Eleanor Scott (Highlands and Islands) (Green): To ask the Scottish Executive what plans it has to develop an early warning system to forewarn coastal communities of potential storm and flood events.

(S2W-30982)

Sarah Boyack:

Following the coastal flooding experienced around Scotland in January 2005, the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) was asked by the Scottish Executive if a national solution could be developed to provide a general early alert of coastal flooding.

My predecessor, Rhona Brankin MSP, agreed that, a solution based on the Met Office Storm Tide Forecasting Service be developed by SEPA to provide Flood Watch (an early alert of the possibility of flooding) for nine broad coastal areas.  This has been funded by the Scottish Executive as an extension to the existing Storm Tide Forecasting Service.

Alerts from the Storm Tide Forecasting Service are received by SEPA when sea levels are forecast to exceed predetermined thresholds.  Messages can then be posted to the ‘Floodline’ service and to flood warning partners giving around 12 hours warning of conditions that may lead to flooding.

If trials are successful and staff training can be completed in time, this service will go live in February 2007.

SCOTTISH EXECUTIVE

Index Heading: Environment and Rural Affairs Department

Eleanor Scott (Highlands and Islands) (Green): To ask the Scottish Executive what plans it has to establish data gathering equipment such as monitoring buoys or tidal measuring stations west of the Outer Hebrides.

(S2W-30983)

Sarah Boyack:

Tidal measuring stations at key locations in the Outer Hebrides would improve understanding of the coastal processes and performance of the Storm Tide Forecasting Service model, on which flood watch and flood warning alerts are based.

The Scottish Environment Protection Agency has been in discussion with Comhairle nan Eilean Siar and have agreed that they will work together on this issue.

The installation of tidal measuring stations and the provision of the staff resource to maintain sites and to process and analyse data, should be implemented in partnership with other Storm Tide Forecasting Service partners i.e. the Environment Agency, Proudman Oceanographic Lab, Met Office and Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science, to ensure that the data is collected to the standard required to feed back into the Storm Tide Forecasting Service.

SCOTTISH EXECUTIVE