Policy implementation of catchment-scale flood risk management: Learning from Scotland and England

Josselin J. Rouillard*, Torn Ball, Kate V. Heal, Alison D. Reeves

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Recent years have seen a gradual adoption of a "catchment-scale" approach to flood risk management into European policy-making which, amongst other objectives, promotes rural land use change to reduce flood risk. While some exploratory studies of land managers' attitudes exist, research is lacking on how public policies can be mobilised locally to implement these ideas. Two local initiatives were analysed in the transboundary River Tweed basin in Scotland and England during which public authorities negotiated with land managers. A combination of documents (N = 21) and interviews (N = 63) forms the basis of the data analysed. The results showed that implementation is highly dependent on the local policy framework, the activities of implementers, and land managers' responses to (combination of) policy instruments. Several factors were identified influencing implementation such as devolution arrangements (i.e. from national to regional/local), the level of local interest on flood risk, local attitudes to compromise and collaboration, available policy instruments, and the existence of participatory catchment organisations. With limited scope for stand-alone regulatory action or funding in the short term, synergies and measures promoting co-benefits in flood risk management should be further sought in the Water Framework Directive River Basin Management Plans, as well as in cross-compliance and the new agri-environment-climate strategies of the common agricultural policy. (C) 2015 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)155-165
Number of pages11
JournalEnvironmental Science & Policy
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2015


  • Land use change
  • Flood directive
  • Water framework directive
  • Common agricultural policy


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