Flooding: Bellwin scheme activated to help Local Authorities

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After some of the worst flooding ever recorded in parts of Scotland the response by the Scottish Government and agencies is continuing.

According to the latest information a total of 150 people have been evacuated and 100 properties have been affected so far by the flooding with the worst hit areas in Dumfries and Galloway, East Ayrshire and parts of the Borders.

All the families that have been evacuated are staying with friends or families or have been housed in temporary accommodation.

A substantial effort has been on-going on the part of local response partners and national agencies and power companies across Scotland to mitigate the damage caused by flooding and severe weather impacts.

The Scottish Government’s Resilience Room has been in operation since before Christmas with involvement throughout from Scottish Ministers across portfolios and the First Minister. This co-ordinated partnership working, backed by SEPA and Met Office analysis, has made it easier for the emergency services, transport agencies and utility companies to work together.

The Scottish Government has activated the Bellwin Scheme as a result of the severe storms over the last ten days. This is a discretionary scheme to give financial assistance to councils who face an undue financial burden as a result of large-scale emergencies. Ministers will consider emergency financial assistance for any local authority that qualifies under the terms of the scheme as a result of the storm damage.

More rain is forecast for later this week, with some localised flooding possible on Wednesday afternoon and evening in Tayside, Dumfries & Galloway and the Borders. On Friday flooding is possible in the same areas with others across Scotland possibly being affected. Scottish Ministers, SEPA and the Met Office will continue to monitor the situation very closely and warnings will be issued if necessary.

Environment and Climate Minister Paul Wheelhouse said:

“The recent bad weather has caused some of the worst flooding ever recorded in parts of Dumfries and Galloway, Ayrshire and the Scottish Borders and I’d like to pay tribute to all those involved in supporting communities affected in locations there and elsewhere around Scotland. The councils, local fire and rescue services, other emergency services and utility companies have reacted very swiftly to minimise the impact of rising water levels and establish welfare centres for affected communities.

“Yesterday I visited Dumfries and Galloway to see first-hand the work underway to protect communities in the South West, although it was not possible to prevent flood impacts in all cases. The damage, although substantial and distressing for all of the families affected has been strongly mitigated by the preparations put in place by the Scottish Government and our partners, as well as new systems such as area wide alerts and supplemented by the localised flood warnings from SEPA, in the increasing number of catchments where warning systems have been deployed.

“I would encourage everyone, especially those not familiar with the services that are available, to check SEPA’s Floodline website for the latest flood information and to sign up to receive Floodline warnings direct to their phone. These warnings can make the difference in terms of giving residents and businesses time to prepare for flood risk. It is worth bearing in mind that saturated ground conditions mean that river catchments are unusually sensitive to the kinds of rainfall events we have experienced in recent days, so individuals need to be vigiliant over the coming days when alerts are in force.

Finance Secretary John Swinney will consider all eligible expenditure under the terms of the Bellwin Scheme when formal claims have been received from the Councils.

Mr Swinney said:

“It is vital that nothing should deter local authorities from moving quickly to recovery and repair the extensive damage caused by this weekend’s storms. That is why I have today agreed to activate the Bellwin scheme which provides support to affected councils to assist with immediate and unforeseen costs of dealing with the aftermath of the severe weather.

“We look forward to working with those councils who apply to the scheme to ensure that resources are made available as appropriate.”