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A different approach to tackle flooding

In his speech at the annual Flood and Coast Conference, Environment Agency Chief Executive, Sir James Bevan, highlighted the need for a new approach to tackle flooding over the next 50 years.

He said, that while the country is better protected than ever against flooding, the future will bring more challenges as sea levels rise and more housing is required to accommodate a growing population.

Despite huge advances in flood protection, Sir James is concerned that the technology will be left behind as the country rises to meet these new challenges.

As he revealed that every £1 invested in new flood schemes saves the economy £10 in damages avoided, he warned that new approaches are needed to combat increasing flood risk. Since 2015, new flood schemes completed by the Environment Agency have benefitted more than 100,000 homes but to continue building on this success new 21st century approaches are needed.

Sir James has called for greater business investment, quicker emergency response and increased use of natural flood schemes, in addition to ‘hard’ defences, in order to reduce the impact of flooding on communities around the country. He questioned how these challenges should be dealt with and suggest that more concrete – simply building our flood defences higher and higher – is not the answer.

He also warned that tough questions will need to be answered about what is important to protect and that there might be a case for considering future funding priorities.

Sir James Bevan said: “Almost every day in this country, when rivers and tides rise, rain falls and storms blow, thousands of people sleep safe and unaware that they are being protected by flood defences.

“But what works so well now – and has done in the past – may not be enough in the future. Over the next fifty years if we are going to give the country the best possible protection against flooding, we are going to need a different approach.”

Image: Shutterstock

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