Fife creates map of all flood risk areas to get ready for more extreme weather

Fife councillors have been warned that "climate change is here to stay" as the local authority debates how it can prepare for more extreme weather like that which hit the region last summer.
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A major incident was declared in the Kingdom after torrential rain washed out homes, closed off roads and piled cars atop one another in the car parks of Kirkcaldy's Victoria Hospital in August.

In what were described as "one in a thousand year events" areas like Glenrothes Airport saw 106mm of rain - more than a month's worth - in a single night. Landslips also affected Pettycur Bay Caravan Park

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The environment and protective services sub-committee heard that council officers have gathered what they believe to be a complete record of all areas affected by flooding in recent months.

Flooded car park at Victoria Hospital in Kirkcaldy last August (Pic: Fife Photo Agency)Flooded car park at Victoria Hospital in Kirkcaldy last August (Pic: Fife Photo Agency)
Flooded car park at Victoria Hospital in Kirkcaldy last August (Pic: Fife Photo Agency)

However, they are appealing to councillors and the public to get in touch if there are any they believe have been missed.

Officers intend to use the database to assess which areas require new flood assessments, at a cost of £325,000 for this financial year. More money will be required for further assessments after April - a decision which lies with Fife Council's policy and resources committee.

Ross Speirs, service manager for structural services, said: "This is further confirmation, if we need any, that climate change is here to stay.

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"There's no such thing as too much information when it comes to investigations of flood events."

The council says its options in predicting the areas that could be hit next are limited, but that those areas which suffered particularly badly in August will be provided with prevention measures such as flood pods.

The authority is engaging with Scottish Water to assess what the national body can do to bolster its infrastructure. Ken Gourlay, head of environment, believes residents need to remain alert to the threat of floods too.

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He said: "It is incredibly difficult to predict where these problems are coming to come.

"If you look at the incidents in August, bearing in mind this is a one in a thousand year event, it's incredibly difficult to make that pre-emptive move.

"We don't know where that flooding is going to come, new problems arose for the first time that we were aware of, and road systems are built to cope with a one in 30-year flood. These systems were never built to cope with that level of water.

"We need to work with the communities on resilience so folk can protect their own properties where possible.

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"But think about the amount of staff out that night trying to cover that amount of events - it's almost impossible."

One of the council's leading experts on flooding has warned that the events of August have set "a new benchmark" for extreme weather.

Dr Rick Haynes, lead consultant on flooding, shorelines and harbours, said: "The quantities of rainfall we saw were the new benchmark and unfortunately benchmarks due to climate change are being broken frequently and more extremely.

"The only thing we can say is these events are becoming more frequent and more extreme.”

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