Tag Archives: Flooding

In the news: MPs demand overhaul of Environment Agency to protect communities from rising flood risk

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Source: www.getreading.co.uk

Winter is on the way – and makes this report on future flood prevention from the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee (released today) very timely.  Today’s report, ‘Future flood prevention’, http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201617/cmselect/cmenvfru/115/115.pdf  builds on previous works such as ‘Floods and Dredging – a reality check’  from CIWEM
http://ciwem.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/Floods-and-Dredging-a-reality-check.pdf   and others, recognising that in many cases, traditional approaches to managing flood risk are not only unaffordable and unsustainable – they don’t always work and are neither, the only – nor, sometimes, the best solution.

The report highlights how a catchment wide approach is central to achieving an affordable and sustainable response to flooding in a more populated future, facing the consequences of climate change.

The Catchment based approach (CaBA) https://www.catchmentbasedapproach.org/   and Catchment Partnerships are well placed to drive this forward and deliver real solutions to communities not able to benefit from more traditional ‘hard engineered’ and expensive schemes. Existing Catchment Partnerships have developed strong links between local communities, local authorities, the Environment Agency, wildlife trusts and large institutions such as water companies and local industries, and are already delivering projects that enhance and protect our precious water resources and habitats; using a holistic approach to achieve multi-benefit solutions.

At the South East Rivers Trust, we are proud to host and co-host river catchments across the South East, and are increasingly involved in projects addressing local flood issues. In September, the Loddon Catchment Partnership  http://www.loddoncatchment.org.uk  supported a resident-led workshop, hosted by the Loddon Basin Flood Action Group and the University of Reading, on the potential for natural flood management projects to help residents who are at risk of flooding in Berkshire.

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Although there is a need for more evidence to inform best practice (but see Wilkinson ME, Quinn PF, Welton P. (2010) Runoff management during the September 2008 floods in the Belford catchment, Northumberland. Journal of Flood Risk Management, 3(4)), schemes such as those described in the report have shown the potential to achieve cumulative benefits from linked, practical projects that use techniques as diverse as increasing the area of land that can absorb water by planting woodland, to creating extra water storage areas by installing ‘leaky dams’ of natural materials that slow and divert water during high flow events.

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Reproduced from Future Flood Prevention (EFRA Committee report)

http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201617/cmselect/cmenvfru/115/115.pdf

It all makes so much sense! – BUT there are challenges. The report highlights that the key to the success – or even existence of these projects lies in taking the whole community along, and providing realistic payments to landowners whose livelihoods are affected by these schemes. In discussions at our Cuckmere and Pevensey Catchment Partnership meeting http://www.cplcp.org.uk  farmers stressed the need for these payments to be an ongoing income stream, rather than one-off payments that do not reflect changes to their business model. This necessity is also highlighted in the report along with the criticism that government response to flooding has been reactive rather than pro-active, resulting from too short time scales for meaningful, strategic planning.

Improving communications across all areas of local planning is also essential. Highlighting the potential for new developments to embrace these methods can only help mitigate against the effects of yet more impermeable roofs, roads and pavements contributing to localised surface flooding.

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Source: BBC Berkshire.

The Catchment Based Approach in action: Natural flood risk management in Stroud

When it comes to protecting communities from the worst impacts of natural disasters like the recent floods in Cumbria, York and Manchester, it’s easy to feel a little helpless in the face of global-scale influences like El Nino and the possible effects of climate change.

But as one of the warmest and wettest Decembers on record spills over into a grey and soggy January, and flood risk management continues to dominate the national conversation, here’s a fascinating case study that shows how local communities can use the Catchment Based Approach to make a real difference in their local area.

This video from Stroud District Council shows how residents are working with landowners further up the Frome catchment to slow the flow of heavy rainfall down these steep valleys, using natural materials to hold flood water back in the hills and preventing it from hitting vulnerable urban pinch-points all at once.

It’s a lot less expensive than many other heavy-engineering-and-dredging solutions to flood defence. And, as part of a community and catchment approach, it looks much more likely to succeed and be sustainable in the long term too…

Keep vigilant around your local rivers over the next few days…

The Environment Agency has been in touch to say that with the inclement weather, they are contacting their partners to ask us all to keep vigilant for any incidents (e.g. pollution or blocked culverts) and flooding, and to keep an eye out for our neighbours. There are a number of flood alerts on rivers across the South East and river levels may rise quickly so do take care.

Further information can be found here. Please report any incidents via the freephone number 0800 80 70 60 and any specific flood related issues via the EA’s Floodline on 0845 988 1188.