Government announces improved flood defences and countermeasures


Flooded fields on the Somerset Levels in the west of England.

The Government released a National Flood Resilience Review on 8 September, outlining a number of measures to be put into effect, including enhancements to flood defences, rain and flood modelling, and protections to infrastructure.

Amongst the measures, the review earmarks £12.5 million for new temporary defences, like barriers and high volume pumps, at seven locations – amounting to a fourfold improvement in the EA’s temporary barrier provision compared to last year.

The review also introduces a stress test of the risk of flooding from rivers and the sea in England. Met Office forecasts of extreme rainfall will be linked with EA modelling to provide a new assessment of flood risk.
Efforts also appear to have been made to enlist the commitment of utility companies to increasing the flood protection of their key local infrastructure. Ben Gummer, Minister for the Cabinet Office and Paymaster General, said:

“The government has made clear that we expect water and telecoms companies to work ever closer together to improve their preparation and response to flooding, making sure lifelines such as mobile phone masts and water treatment works continue to function even when the Great British weather is throwing its very worst at us.”

Jon Robinson, Director – Water at AECOM, commented: “We welcome the National Flood Resilience Review and its recognition that extreme and rare events could become more frequent due to the changing climate.

“Encouragingly, it includes a commitment to an integrated, cross-sector approach to protecting critical infrastructure through closer collaboration between water, telecoms and power companies. This will help develop longer term, permanent improvements in the resilience of service provision to communities in the event of extreme flooding.

“The Review paves the way for a new approach to flood risk management. Ultimately, a more holistic approach that brings together multiple stakeholders working together across entire catchments is needed. While the Review rightly advocates a strategic, long-term approach to flood management, our hope is that funding too will increase in real terms in recognition of its importance.

“Crucially, the Review makes the link between flood management, resilient infrastructure and urban regeneration. It is vital the opportunities to create social and economic value from improved flood management are maximised.”

Also commenting on the review, ICE Director General, Nick Baveystock said: “This report rightly emphasises the need to protect critical infrastructure during extreme flooding so the public, businesses and communities can continue to function. An integrated approach to infrastructure is absolutely key to achieving this level of resilience and we are pleased this has been acknowledged.

“I also welcome the commitment to flood planning beyond 2021. Managing the effects of severe flooding is an enduring, long-term challenge. So we should ensure we back the commitment to planning with an associated long term capital and maintenance investment programme, recognising that prevention costs are one eighth of those of post flooding restoration. The Autumn Statement provides the Government with the opportunity to set this out and demonstrate that it backs words with action.”

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