Flooding, drainage and coastal protection

Roles and responsibilities related to flooding and drainage

Emergency response

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 & Rescue service has a duty to save lives in the event of serious flooding. This means rescuing people trapped, or likely to become trapped, by water; and protecting them from serious harm
  • "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 (a) natural causes; or (b) an escape of water

Local level


  • Legally 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

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

Shetland level

Shetland Islands Council

  • Preparation of Local Flood Risk Management Plans:
    Local Flood Risk Management Plans
  • Planning and development management (with flood risk advice from SEPA)
  • 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 public 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.
  • Working with the emergency services in response to severe flooding
  • Coordinating the aftermath of a flood
  • Dealing with road closures

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.

National level

Scottish Government


  • 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.
  • SEPA also has a strategic role in flood risk management and is responsible for producing Scotland's first ever Flood Risk Management Strategies.

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


Colin Smith
Planning Engineer
Shetland Islands Council
8 North Ness Business Park

Email: Planning.Flooding.Drainage.Coastal@shetland.gov.uk
Tel: +44 (01595) 744881