Truss confirms flood review

18th January 2016

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  • Adaptation ,
  • Politics & Economics ,
  • England


Benjamin Ridder

Environment secretary Liz Truss has confirmed that the government is reviewing national flood resilience after 16,000 properties in England were flooded in December and early January.

She told parliament that the review would look at forecasting and modelling, resilience of key infrastructure and the way decisions are taken about flood expenditure. Truss said it would also seek to further develop the catchment-based approach Defra is now using for its environment planning, including slowing the flow of water upstream. She also said the Natural Capital Committee (NCC) would look at catchment-specific solutions. “That is a very important part of how we become more resilient as a country,” Truss told MPs.

In a paper published on 5 January, Dieter Helm, chair of the NCC, said the floods offered the government an opportunity for a radical rethink of defences. He described the existing approach to flood defence as, at best inefficient and occasionally counterproductive, encouraging the sorts of land use and land management decisions that could exacerbate the problem in the medium term: “[The government] can muddle on with the existing model and add some immediate ‘sticking plasters’. It can increase the funding and try to improve the agency’s modelling and management. Or, it can seize the opportunity to radically rethink and restructure flood defences in the UK.”

Meanwhile, the Association of Drainage Authorities has called for more funding to maintain flood defences, as well as greater investment in water level and flood risk management innovation. Chief executive Innes Thomas said: “We need to invest in proper resources and skills to manage water and think much more innovatively about how we work with water and all the component parts of a river catchment to provide that additional flood (and drought) resilience needed.”

Confirmation of the government’s flood review came as the Met Office said December was the wettest month in the UK since records began in 1910, and that 2015 was the sixth wettest year.

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