Property Flood Resilience (PFR) are practical measures designed to improve the resilience of properties to flooding, and the emotional impacts of flooding to people. They can either prevent water from entering a property (resistance measure), for example, flood guards across doorways, or limit the damage once water has entered a property (resilience measure), for example by water-proofing the brickwork.

PFR measures may be installed by an individual, or by a local government as part of a flood protection scheme or a subsidy scheme.

This study provides a baseline best estimate of the potential for PFR and current uptake.  The next stage of the ‘Living with Flooding: action plan’, is to consider possible reasons for the poor uptake of PFR and approaches to encourage uptake more widely.

The research has analysed SEPA flood-map data and qualitative surveys to determine:

  1. the flood risk circumstances whereby properties would benefit from PFR;
  2. the estimated number of properties and businesses at risk from flooding in each local authority area which could benefit from PFR today and in the future, allowing for climate change projections; and
  3. the uptake of PFR measures in Scotland in 2019, including how and when measures were installed.
Key findings

The findings suggest that potentially around 81,000 properties may benefit from the uptake of some kind of PFR measure. This is around one third of all properties at risk of flooding in Scotland from any source. All of these properties could benefit from some form of manual resistance measures (such as door and window guards, airbrick covers). Of these, 64,000 could benefit from automatic measures (such as sumps and pumps, non-return valves, automatic airbricks). 40,000 of the properties may also benefit from resilience measures.

Analysis show that areas where surface water flooding is usually less than 0.6m in depth will benefit the most from PFR measures.

An estimated 1,400-1,500 properties are currently protected by PFR across Scotland. The number has increased by at least 300 since 2014, with the majority installed by local authorities.

This shows the significant potential for wider uptake of PFR to contribute to flood risk management and climate resilience in Scotland. Therefore, while local authorities appear to have led the way in terms of contributing to PFR uptake, independent uptake by property owners needs to be encouraged and facilitated further.

Furthermore, as the number of properties at risk of flooding in Scotland increases with climate change, the number of properties that could benefit from PFR is expected to rise by 25,000 to 43,000 (30-70%) by the 2080s.

This shows that uptake needs to increase significantly over the short to medium term to ensure that Scotland employs the range of flood management measures best able to reduce the impact of flood risk, both current and in the future.

The analysis suggests that 400-600 properties would need to install PFR measures each year just to keep up with the projected increased impact on flooding from climate change, even without reducing current risks. This highlights both the significant role that PFR can play in managing the impacts of climate change on flood risk, but also the significant challenge in increasing uptake.

Read the Living With Flooding action plan