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Update on Flood Risk Management

Flooding 2
Like many other parts of the United Kingdom, West Lothian is experiencing the effects of a changing climate, one of the biggest contributors to increased future flooding.

As required by the Flood Risk Management (Scotland) Act 2009, West Lothian Council works together with its partners in the Forth Estuary Local Plan District (LPD) to manage flood risk in the council's area.

Cycle 2 (2022 to 2028)

The Cycle 2 Local Flood Risk Management Plan was published in March 2023 by the Lead Local Authority for the LPD, Falkirk Council, and can be accessed here (opens new window).

The Cycle 2 SEPA Plan for the Forth Estuary LPD was published by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) in January 2022 and can be accessed here (opens new window)

Flood Risk Management Plans set out objectives and actions for managing flood risk in West Lothian's target areas in each Potentially Vulnerable Area (PVA).  A PVA is a catchment where the potential impacts of flooding justify further assessment.  West Lothian Council has four PVA's for Cycle 2:

PVA 2/10/12 - Linlithgow

PVA 2/10/13 - Livingston, Broxburn & Bathgate

PVA 2/10/14 - Whitburn (and Blackburn)

PVA 2/10/15 - West Calder & Fauldhouse

Within these PVA's the target areas (known as Objective Target Areas or OTA's) are communities at risk of flooding, which should benefit from actions to reduce flood risk.  Target areas include implementation information, proposed timescales, funding mechanisms and identify who is responsible for carrying out each action.  The 4 PVA's for Cycle 2 include the following 10 target areas:

FauldhouseLinlithgowLivingston & Mid CalderWest CalderWhitburn


Public consultation of the draft Cycle 2 SEPA plan and the draft Cycle 2 Local Plan was carried out between December 2020 to October 2021.  A summary of the consultation responses was published by SEPA in March 2022, and can be accessed here (opens new window).

Cycle 1 (2016 to 2022)

The Cycle 1 Local Flood Risk Management Plan was published in 2016 by Cycle 1 Lead Local Authority for the LPD - The City of Edinburgh Council.  The Cycle 1 Local Plan can be viewed here (opens new window).

Cycle 1 of the Flood Risk Management Strategy (now known as the Cycle 1 SEPA Plan) for the Forth Estuary Local Plan District was published by SEPA in 2015.  The Cycle 1 Strategy can be viewed here (opens new window).

For Cycle 1 West Lothian's flood risk priority areas (known as PVA's) included: Bathgate, Blackridge, Broxburn, Linlithgow, Livingston and Whitburn.

Falkirk Council took on the role of Lead Local Authority for the Forth Estuary LPD in 2016.  Falkirk Council published the 2019 Interim Cycle 1 Local Plan (opens new window) and the 2023 Final Cycle 1 Local Plan (opens new window).

The final Local Plan for Cycle 1 is due to be published on 31 December 2022.  When published the Plan will be available at Final Cycle 1 Local Plan (opens new window).

Who can help?

You may believe that preparing for a flood isn't something that you need to think about. Perhaps you live or work in an area that hasn't flooded before or your home or business is located on higher ground.

Don't forget, however, that roads leading to and from your home or workplace may get blocked by floodwater. Power and water supplies may be cut and drains may not work. Also, if and when you need help so will lots of other people. The resources of the local authority and emergency responders will be severely stretched.

You are the first line of defence against flooding. No one can stop flooding from happening, but good preparation can limit the devastating impact that flooding can have on your home or business. It is important to know what actions you can take to reduce the impact of flooding on yourself and your property. There are a range of flood protection products that can be fitted to your property to prevent water entering though doorways, solum vents, and up though the drain in ground floor sinks, baths, showers and toilets.

For more details of flood protection products, please refer to The Scottish Flood Forum - Supporting Flood Risk Communities (opens new window) an independent Scottish Charity that supports individuals and communities at risk of flooding, including the provision of immediate support in the event of flooding and flood resilience advice.

How can West Lothian Council assist?

West Lothian Council's Flood Risk management team may also be able to assist in the following ways. You should be aware, however, that during periods of prolonged or heavy rainfall resources are at a stretch and our response needs to be prioritised to those in greatest need.

  • We assess watercourses, including culverted watercourses, on a prioritised basis to determine the need for maintenance to reduce the risk of flooding.
  • We inspect open watercourses and prioritise maintenance to any watercourse which is in a condition where deemed more likely to cause flooding in our communities.
  • We provide advice to the Council's Planning Services team on matters relating to flood risk management, sustainable drainage and the water environment
  • We investigate the cause of serious flooding and the feasibility of reducing the risk of re-occurrence, including, where appropriate, the possible promotion of a Flood Protection Scheme.
  • There is no duty on the Council to provide sandbags*. As sandbags are in limited supply, we can only provide them to properties that are in imminent danger of being flooded; in extreme flooding situations it may not be possible to provide them due to the level of demand placed on resources.  Sandbags will not be provided to protect outbuildings or garden ground.  If you are in imminent danger off flooding, sandbags can be requested from the Council via 01506 280000 or Reporting a Flooding or Drainage Issue - West Lothian Council. Please note that during periods of high demand this phone line can be overwhelmed, and customers are requested to hold until their call is answered.  Sandbags that are provided will not be uplifted when they are no longer required. 
  • Sandbags* are not always the best way of protecting property.  Other flood protection products are available, please see Protecting your property from flood damage - West Lothian Council for further information on Property Flood Resilient (PFR) products. The Scottish Flood Forum can provide advice and support to you before, during or after flooding and can be contacted on 0131 563 9392, or Contact Scottish Flood Forum - Scottish Flood Forum.
  • We provide support to emergency responders and undertake work to lessen the effects of flooding.
  • In the aftermath of a significant flood we will co-ordinate clean-up operations in liaison with colleagues in other council services.

* The modern alternative to sandbags (which themselves are not waterproof) is synthetic sand bags which do not contain sand but a special polymer that expands when wet.  Synthetic sandbags can be deployed extremely quickly by immersing in water for a few minutes to activate the polymer.  Unlike traditional sand bags, synthetic sand bags are very light.  These products are available from most DIY stores and builders merchants.

If you believe that your property may be at risk you should keep a copy of the Council's   Flood Factsheet [260KB]  handy and follows the advice it gives. If you have been affected by flooding,  PH04 Clearing up after a flood [65KB]  gives advice on what to do once the water subsides.