In Scotland the responsibility for protecting property from flooding rests with the owner. It is important therefore that property owners and occupiers know how to protect their property to reduce the physical and emotional impacts of being flooded.

This report aims to support uptake of Property Flood Resilience (PFR) measures by:

  1. exploring the reasons why people do not install PFR measures, using in-depth interviews with home and business owners who have been flooded; and
  2. identifying what would help encourage owners to make resilient changes to their properties using lessons from Scotland, the UK and internationally, and across other disciplines, for example energy efficiency.

A recent study estimated that 284,000 properties in Scotland are at risk of flooding. This figure is expected to increase to 394,000 by 2080 as a result of climate change. The need for information and support for property flood resilience action will be greater as climate change increases the number of properties at risk of flooding in Scotland.

Key findings

The property and business owners we spoke to were at an early stage on the journey to making their properties resilient. Although their property had previously been flooded (and they knew what it was like to suffer significant damage to their property), their responses to the idea of PFR were not positive, overall, and the barriers that were apparent were complex and not easily overcome.

Both strands of research indicated that the timing of communications is key and should be twofold. Firstly, there is a clear need for general awareness-raising pre-flood in areas at risk to shift attitudes towards greater risk awareness and risk acceptance. Secondly, this should be combined with a targeted communication campaign and signposting to help and inform at the crisis stage immediately after a flood.

The evidence review demonstrates that looking internationally, there are few examples where interventions have made great inroads in increasing flood preparedness. Scotland has a long way to go, but so do most other nations. Taken together the interviews and the evidence review show that there is no single or quick fix to increase PFR uptake – what is required is a series of interventions to tackle multiple and complex barriers. These must meet people at whatever stage they are at on the journey towards resilience.

The literature on encouraging uptake of PFR also suggests that it is important to empower communities, and to create an environment around property owners that make uptake of PFR measures the easy choice.