COASTAL flood warning schemes have been extended as authorities attempt to protect almost 170,000 properties from rising seas.

Estimates suggest more than 169,000 homes and businesses will be vulnerable to flooding by 2080 thanks to more frequent extreme weather and the impact of climate change.

Flooding in coastal areas is already thought to cost the economy as much as £53 million a year.

Now new warning schemes have been put in place as authorities attempt to safeguard at-risk communities.

The latest move by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (Sepa) will cover almost 2600 properties in 19 priority areas across the Orkneys, Aberdeenshire and Angus. The change extends Sepa’s Floodline service to almost all of the east coast.

Vincent Fitzsimons, the Holyrood agency’s head of hydrology and flooding services, said: “Scotland needs to be prepared more powerfully for weather extremes and rising sea levels, which as we know, is only ever-increasing as a result of climate change.

“As sea levels rise all around the UK coastline, it brings with it the risk of coastal erosion and more frequent flooding for Scotland’s exposed coastal communities.

“The Orkney Islands are one of three regions particularly at risk from the impact of coastal flooding and Sepa has spent two years developing the new coastal warning scheme in close partnership with Orkney Island Council to provide a state of the art system which will deliver accurate, real time warnings to those who need it most.

“As the Scottish flood forecasting, flood warning and strategic flood risk management authority, our work will continue with the latest National Flood Risk Assessment, due to be published in December, to ensure that Scotland remains resilient in the face of increased flooding.”

Sepa issues more than 300 flood alerts and in excess of 400 warnings every year in a bid to help the public prepare for potentially devastating levels of water.

The new measures for Orkney and the Northeast coast are said to represent a “significant investment and enhancement of Scotland’s overall resilience to the impact of climate change and extreme weather”.

Cabinet Secretary for Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform, Roseanna Cunningham, commented: “Scotland’s climate is changing, and this means extreme weather events, including floods, are expected to occur more frequently in the years ahead.

“The Scottish Government realises that it’s vital that we work alongside partners like Sepa and local authorities, to do everything in our powers to improve resilience against issues like flooding, in some of our most vulnerable communities.

“We have committed £420m over 10 years to protect homes in many of Scotland’s most flood-prone communities, in places like the Orkneys, and North East of Scotland.

“We know that we can’t control the weather, but we can change how we respond to it. These coastal flood warning schemes provide an invaluable tool for doing that.”