In the past decade the UK has experienced a series of devastating floods, which have not only resulted in damage to properties, but also long-term damage to communities and their economies. It is estimated that the floods in February 2020 resulted in an economic loss of around £333million.
As a result, the government has committed to multiple steps to improve flood protection and prevention. This has included most recently a commitment to a doubling of flood and coastal defence investment across England, investing £5.2 billion over six years, as announced in last week’s Spending Review. This is on top of the £2.6 billion already invested between 2015 and 2021, which has helped to protect 300,000 homes.
In July 2020 the Environment Agency published its National Flood and Coastal Erosion Risk Management Strategy (FCERM), focusing on a long-term vision for “a nation ready for, and resilient to, flooding and coastal change – today, tomorrow and to the year 2100”. These funding announcements along with the FCERM demonstrate the government’s commitment to investing in long-term flood protection for local communities.
Innovation – Natural Flood Management
The latest progress report on the 25 Year Environment Plan, published in March 2020, outlines a further £200 million investment over 6 years from 2021 to pilot innovative actions to improve long-term flood and coastal resilience of 25 local areas across the country. One of the key areas for innovation include natural flood management strategies and initiatives. Clean, green and natural flood management solutions are the key for long term sustainability of flood prevention and protection strategies.
Leeds City Council has been leading in efforts to develop natural flood management techniques. This includes planting trees, building log dams, woodland management and installing fence line. By working in partnership between local and national authorities, landowners and the voluntary sector Leeds managed to develop and deliver a Natural Flood Management Programme. Through securing £500,000 of funding, they invested in natural methods to slow the flow of water from upstream in the catchment area.