Scottish Government guidance strongly encourages managed adaptive flood risk management. However, none of the schemes in the 2016-2021 delivery cycle incorporate adaptive plans or reference multiple climate change scenarios.

This project looks at case studies developing adaptive flood risk management plans to inform guidance. It particularly looks at how to address the five critical barriers identified in our 2019 report Taking a managed adaptive approach to flood risk management planning in Scotland.

The aim is for future guidance to help local authorities embed adaptive approaches and, in doing so, support the resilience of people and places to a changing and uncertain climate, and create greater long-term value and societal benefits.

The recommendations are based on three case studies; Outer Hebrides coastal adaptation, Moray fluvial adaptation, and The Clyde tidal adaptation.

Key findings and recommendations
  • Managed adaptive approaches to flood risk management in Scotland are far from mainstream, and emerging practice is not yet keeping pace with policy ambitions
  • The three case studies explored in this research illustrate that the concept of a managed adaptive approach, although not widely in use, is flexible enough to support a range of local circumstances and applications, including: asset-orientated, stakeholder-orientated and transformation-orientated adaptation ambitions and investments.
  • The case studies also demonstrate the value of “learning by doing” which in itself is a core aspect of taking a managed adaptive approach to flood risk management planning, and important to scaling up future activity and promoting successes.
  • To this effect this research highlights the importance of the ‘getting started and framing’ phase and involvement of stakeholders. To set adaptation investments up for success, it is therefore recommended (regardless of the approach adopted) that step 1 of the process is positioned as a readiness assessment and includes five core activities:
  1. Define ambitions, success and value – ambitions should be co-designed with stakeholders and include a local definition of resilience (now and in the future).
  2. Plan the adaptation process – co-design of the process and approach with stakeholders.
  3. Funding and finance – initial assessment of the potential funding and financing opportunities reflecting the adaptation ambitions and wider local, regional and national strategies, policies and plans.
  4. Monitoring and evaluation – drawing on the statement of ambitions and definition of resilience an initial assessment of indicator needs and data availability should be completed.
  5. Capacity building and learning – an initial assessment of the capacity and capabilities of the project partners should be undertaken to determine resource, expertise and skills needs. This assessment should consider the importance of fulfilling four key design roles: systems thinker, leader and story-teller, designer and maker, and connector and convenor.