Despite what John Hart says – UK flood defence plans are inadequate


Environmental Scientists don’t agree with DCC Leader John Hart (who looks to be parroting Environment Secretary George Eusitice) – it’s not enough, just sticking plaster.

Here is a digest of today’s press comments

Robin McKie 

More investment in flood defences and improved planning for future disasters are urgently needed, scientists have warned…….

“We are simply not prepared for the flooding coming our way in future,” said Prof Hannah Cloke, of Reading University. “We need to carry out a complete overhaul of our defences and be prepared to spend a lot more on them over a longer period of time.”

So far the government has committed to spending £4bn over the next five years on improving flood defences. But both the amount and timescale were criticised for being insufficient last week.

“Extremely wet days during UK winters are currently up by around 15% compared with previous decades,” said Dann Mitchell of Bristol University’s Cabot Institute for the Environment. “Wetter future winters is a consistent projection with some predicting a 30% to 35% increase in rain by 2070. Our government and town planners need to invest significantly in UK flood defences.”

Last week George Eustice, the environment secretary, said he wanted to see more nature-based solutions, such as the construction of dams made of natural materials and the planting of trees in upper catchment areas. These would hold on to water and prevent it from pouring too quickly into rivers and estuaries.

But this approach was dismissed as inadequate by Roger Falconer, professor of water management at Cardiff University. “It is like putting a small sticking plaster on a major open wound to control profuse bleeding. It would certainly be insufficient when dealing with the 30% increase in winter rainfall which the Met Office has predicted for some areas.”

Instead, Falconer called for the construction of a large number of flow-through or perforated dams above towns at high risk of flooding. “Such a dam fills during flooding in the upper parts of the river basin and is then emptied, under controlled conditions, after the flood,” Falconer said. “We need many more of these.”…..

Bringing a halt to the construction of houses on flood plains has also emerged as a key issue. One in 10 new homes built in England since 2013 has been built on ground at high risk of flooding, official figures show. Prof Robert Wilby, of the University of Loughborough, told the Guardian that the government should review its housebuilding targets in view of the increased risks from floods.

This was backed by Mohammad Heidarzadeh, head of coastal engineering at Brunel University. “The UK’s flood defence systems were developed decades ago and are not fit to address the current climate situation,” he said. “While the interval for major floods was 15 to 20 years in the past century, it has shortened to two to five years in the past decade.

“The country needs further investment in its flood systems, but such investment should be within a holistic and integrated framework.”

Did you know that Government flood defence expenditure is driven by house prices? 

Sunday Times

The Environment Agency is to rewrite its controversial flood defence funding formula after claims that it pours cash into England’s richest regions, mostly in the south, at the expense of poorer flood-prone areas mainly in the north.

The formula is criticised for favouring the southeast because it is based on property values. It means up to 60% of the £2.6bn flood defence funding from 2015 to 2021 will be spent around London — despite the deluges hitting towns in the Pennines, Yorkshire Dales and Herefordshire in recent weeks during storms Ciara and Dennis. Many are still flooded.

Now the formula is to be rewritten to focus more on protecting people’s health — so property values will be less important. It means hundreds of millions of pounds could be diverted northwards and westwards, to protect England’s poorest flood-prone regions.

And in the Financial Section

Insurers are refusing to provide affordable cover for small businesses in parts of the country where floods have forced thousands to shut temporarily.

The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) warned this weekend that up to 75,000 companies would not be able to find the money for flood insurance after weeks of heavy rain. It is estimated the cost to the economy will top £1bn.

Insurance industry sources said that premiums would rise sharply after storms on successive weekends this month. Some brokers are said to be demanding more than £100,000 for cover in new policies. “You just need to look at the pictures. Small businesses are being crucified,” said one broker.

Campaigners have asked the government to reduce business rates in the worst-affected areas. There are also growing demands for small companies to be permitted to join Flood Re, a government-backed initiative to make flood cover more affordable.

Unlike homeowners, occupiers of commercial premises on flood plains do not receive lower insurance premiums if they erect their own defences.

“We cannot have a situation where small businesses are driven off the flood plain because they cannot access affordable insurance,” said Craig Beaumont, a director at the FSB. “Those that put in place flood defences should see that reflected in lower premiums, so they can stay in the local communities that rely upon them.”

Surprise Surprise!

As an Owlet has pointed out the area marked Two Bridges in the flood map below i.s the land Fords will develop as a business park at Sidford . So no affordable insurance for them.







One thought on “Despite what John Hart says – UK flood defence plans are inadequate

  1. Pingback: Nature-based solutions to flooding - Vision Group for Sidmouth

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