The threat of flooding posed by climate change is influencing a major new government strategy on flood resilience.
The Environment Agency has started an eight-week consultation on its plan to make all of England’s infrastructure resilient to flooding and coastal change by 2050.
Put communities in control
Its chair, Emma Howard Boyd, launched the consultation saying “we cannot win a war against water” by building higher flood defences.
Instead she has called for a new approach that will ensure the threat of flooding posed by climate change can be dealt with by communities.
Around £1 billion is needed every year for England’s traditional flood and coastal defences.
However, with the Environment Agency preparing for a potential 4C rise in global temperatures, urgent action is needed to tackle more frequent and intense flooding along with a rise in sea levels.
The agency is to work with partners to develop more consistent standards, including giving communities access to a range of tools that will help them prepare and respond to flooding.
Those tools will include traditional defences, temporary barriers, natural flood management, sustainable drainage systems, effective flood warnings and emergency response.
Boyd said: “The coastline has never stayed in the same place, and there have always been floods, but climate change is increasing and accelerating these threats.
“We can’t win a war against water by building away climate change with infinitely high flood defences.
“We need to develop consistent standards for flood and coastal resilience in England that help communities better understand their risk and give them more control about how to adapt and respond.”
Two-thirds of all property in England is served by infrastructure in areas at risk of flooding.
For every individual home that suffers flooding, around 16 more are affected by loss of services such as power, transport and telecommunications. It’s estimated that more than five million people in England are at risk from flooding and coastal erosion.
The Flood and Coastal Risk Management Strategy consultation is now open and will run until July 4.
Once the responses have been reviewed, the Environment Agency will produce a document for Parliament later this year.