Has the National Flood Resilience Review, published on Thursday by the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA), answered the UK and local communities’ main concerns on the new flood risk protection policies?
Mary Creagh, chair of the environmental audit committee, once said that communities threatened by flooding needed more immediate help as “people living in the cities of Leeds, and York and Carlisle can’t wait for six years or 10 years for the very slow-growing governmental projects”.
It is very promising news that the government will soon allocate an extra £12.5 million of its budget to prevent more severe floods, one of the most significant implications of climate change according to government scientists. The money will be spent on temporary flood defences and to ensure improved co-operation with utility companies to better protect vital water, electricity and telecoms services.
Environment secretary Andrea Leadsom commented:
“Work is already underway towards £12.5 million of new temporary defences stationed around England, better protection for our infrastructure and new flood modelling that makes better use of data and technology.
“We are absolutely committed to reducing the risk of flooding by investing £2.5bn up to 2021 so we can help protect families, homes and businesses this winter.”
Some of the key points from the National Flood Resilience Review:
- Key local infrastructure of utility companies that work in partnership with the government will see their flood protection levels increased.
- £12.5 million for new temporary defences, such as barriers and high volume pumps, at seven strategic locations around the country. By this winter, the Environment Agency (EA) will have four times more temporary barriers than last year.
- The Environment Agency will be closely working with the Met Office to base the modelling of flood risk assessments closely upon the live rainfall scenarios forecasts released by the Met office.
Some grey areas remain unexplored as Noel Farrer (former president of the Landscape Institute) states :
- The extra £12.5 million is a step in the right direction however the government should release a part of the funding budgets so that UK councils can ensure money is directed towards projects that best reflect local needs.
- Some felt that the Review missed out on how companies could be incentivised to contribute to flood protection systems. This could be done by for instance extending tax relief to companies which offer to help with flood defence projects.
- The control of rainfall in the natural environment through the management of whole river catchments is an attractive idea which seems however to be lacking a strategic, long term view.
- The review could have mentioned the need for a National Rural Land Use Management Policy which would merge the 25 Year Plan for the Environment that is currently being developed with the 25 year Strategy on Food and Farming.
Before the Review got published Former floods minister Richard Benyon expressed the idea that "farmers could be paid to hold back flood water under a post-Brexit rural payments system".
Leaving the EU means that “there is an opportunity now to completely rethink rural policy, and flood protection can come in as part of the way the UK supports its farmers and see farming as doing a public good when it protects communities from flooding.” Says he, referring to the “slow the flow” scheme that has been shown to have prevented flooding at Pickering in North Yorkshire.
The DEFRA Competition:
In order to consolidate its flood risk management approaches and to achieve a deeper understanding of the practical applicability of the approaches which have been proposed as well as a solid starting point for future work on catchment based multi-objective flood risk management, Defra is running a competition to manage the River Eden in Cumbria. The competition is being sponsored by United Utilities, Aviva and the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC).
All entries must be submitted by 5pm September 30th 2016. Any request for clarification regarding the Competition should be submitted at the earliest opportunity via Citizen Space or Floods-Competition@defra.gsi.gov.uk. Winners will be notified by the end of October 2016.
Review all jobs in flood risk here.