Seeing first hand the damage done by the floods and severe weather in areas across Scotland in the last few weeks has been heartbreaking. After the wettest December on record, flooding has caused devastation and misery for many people. However, once again, Scotland’s communities have rallied together and shown real strength.
I have met with local business owners who have made a real difference by offering vital support and I continue to be amazed by the determination and dedication of all of our emergency services who are working around the clock to save homes and livelihoods.
The Scottish Government are committed to providing the support needed to help individuals, business and communities to recover from the damage caused by this unprecedented severe weather. This weekend, Nicola Sturgeon, announced further support of more than £12 million whilst visiting the North East to meet those affected by the most recent flooding. This announcement is in addition to the £4 million announced by John Swinney in his budget statement.
With this funding, every household, commercial premises and charity which has seen flood water damage will be able to claim a grant of £1,500 from their Local Authority. They can use this to replace lost or damage items or to take steps to help flood proof their home. Any business who has had their ability to trade impacted by the flooding will be able to claim a £3,000 grant.
Further funding will also be available to help local authorities restore damage to infrastructure caused by the recent storms – including support for the reinstatement of the A93 between Ballater and Braemar.
Local Authorities which have suffered the most damage as a result of the flooding have been allocated a share of the fund, however, people in any part of Scotland who have suffered flood damage as a result of the severe weather can apply for a grant, with the Scottish Government meeting the cost.
Farming communities will also have access to an Agricultural Floodbank Restoration Grant Scheme of up to £1 million and we will continue discussions with the industry as to how best to support through severe weather.
Today, another important and necessary step forward has been taken, with the launch of the Flood Risk Management Plan which contains 14 local strategies and proposals for 42 flood protection schemes or engineering works planned between 2016 and 2021 to protect homes, business and communities from future flooding risk. This will be supported by an inital investment of £235 million on measures to protect up to 10,000 properties. Our plan is designed to improve the way we tackle the risk of flooding across the country – protecting more homes, businesses, communities and livelihoods.
Now that the picture of those who need support is clearer, the SNP Scottish Government is making sure that the people who need help get it. We are committed to continue to help communities recover and protect communities against future risks.
The Flood Risk Management Strategy is available here: http://apps.sepa.org.uk/FRMStrategies
The Infrastructure Secretary Keith Brown has written to the UK Government, calling on them to access the EU Solidarity Fund to help parts of the country recover from the recent floods.
The EU Solidarity Fund was established to respond to major natural disasters and express solidarity with disaster-stricken regions in Europe. An application to the fund could provide additional and welcome funding to local authorities in Scotland.
However the application for EUSF aid must come from an EU member state government, and so the Scottish Government is ineligible to apply directly. So far, the UK Government has declined to apply.