In a statement released today (10th February 2014), IEMA says that Government must respect professional advice on flood risk management.

The UK’s ability to deal with extreme weather events has been brought into sharp focus with record rainfall and coastal storms that have flooded communities and left large tracts of land underwater. While much of the focus is on the ability of authorities to tackle rising flood waters, it is critical that the long term strategic issues facing the UK are addressed.

UK climate projections show that winters are likely to become milder and wetter; summers will become hotter and drier; and “a shift towards generally wetter winters, and a greater proportion of precipitation to fall as heavy events” .

In addition, the demand for new housing and infrastructure will increase with the UK population projected to grow by over 10 million (17%) between 2010-2035, to 72.3 million people.

The independent Committee on Climate Change reviewed action and spending on flood risk management, highlighting continued development on the flood plain (which will require protection into the future) as an important issue. It also noted that “we can expect an extra £3 billion in avoidable flood damages in future years because spending this period is half a billion pounds behind the identified need”. Addressing these issues will require a much more effective working relationship between government, regulators, business and environment professionals to secure the best outcomes for the long term.

Cross-party consensus and climate leadership is required to determine the priorities and level of funding needed to provide communities with the protection they need. Treating the environment as a political football is unhelpful – it’s far too important an issue to be kicked around. Building resilience to the challenges of climate change requires government, businesses and society to work together to mitigate impacts and invest in protection.

10th February 2014