Flooding duties and responsibilities

Many people wrongly believe that the Council is responsible for protecting their property from flooding. The Council has no statutory duties to prevent properties from flooding. The responsibility lies with the property owner. 

The Council does have some duties in regard to flooding. These are:

  • establish a local flood plan, and carry out actions identified within this plan
  • assess the condition of watercourses for any risk of flooding to non-agricultural land
  • cleanse, repair and otherwise maintain in due state of efficiency any watercourse which may pose a risk of flooding of non-agricultural land

The duty to cleanse, repair and maintain a watercourse consists essentially of clearing culverts, blockages and removing debris.  Other organisations, such as Scottish Natural Heritage, World Wildlife Fund, Scottish Wildlife Trust and local angling clubs also have input into what work is possible on watercourses and at what times of the year.

Although the Council is required to keep watercourses clear of obstructions such as fallen trees, it is does not have a duty to increase the capacity of a watercourse. Any responsibility in respect to increasing the capacity of watercourse lies with its owner. De-silting would have to be approved by SEPA before any work takes place.

What the council does

Although there is no duty on the Council to do so, we will try to supply sandbags as requested by members of the public. In extreme flooding situations this may not be possible due to the level of demand. As sandbags are in limited supply they will only be provided to properties in imminent danger of being flooded. To request sandbags contact Housing Asset Services on 01563 555555 and select option 1 during office hours or 0345 724 0000 at any other time.

What the council does not do

Many flooding problems arise as a result of under-capacity in a watercourse. The Council does not have a duty to improve or increase the capacity of a watercourse. This responsibility lies with the owner of the watercourse, who may need to acquire a license from SEPA before proceeding.

Councils have no powers to require landowners to address flooding issues, although poor land management practices, such as ploughing downhill rather than across, have exacerbated flash flood events. The Council will provide advice on good land management if it is requested.

The Council does not have any duties or powers for maintenance of agricultural flood banks or to mitigate the flooding of agricultural land and property.  This responsibility lies with the landowner.

The Council is not responsible for dealing with flooding from sewers. This responsibility lies with Scottish Water who can be contacted on 0845 600 8855.

The Council does not have a duty to improve the standard of drainage systems of public roads, only to maintain them.

Contact Information

Ayrshire Roads Alliance
The Johnnie Walker Bond
15 Strand Street
Kilmarnock
KA1 1HU
Telephone: 01563 503160
24 Hour Emergency Helpline
Telephone: 0345 724 0000 (local rate)
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