Build September 2016

Build Magazine 80 The Government’s National Flood Resilience Review was prompted by a series of storms that hit the UK with devastating flooding. Having begun in January 2016, shortly after Storm Desmond’s impact reverberated through destroyed homes, businesses and communities, last week the Review pledged a £12.5 million investment in temporary flood defences. his means that a greater number of barriers and pumps will be available to defend key high risk locations. Alongside this headline financial figure, the review’s authors also promised to persuade utility and water companies alike to shoulder a larger portion of the responsibility for protecting vital infrastructure against the ravages of flooding. However, according to Chris Griffiths, flooding expert at leading hard landscaping supplier Marshalls, the Report fails to take a holistic view of the flooding crisis. Chris commented “The National Flood Resilience Review’s findings and pledges of action make sense, and demonstrate some very pragmatic and necessary approaches to dealing with flood affected areas. However, the report concentrates heavily on protecting communities in the event of a flood. While this is absolutely the right approach in coastal areas, we would have liked to see equal attention given to reducing the impact of surface water flooding in inland areas. “We believe the report’s lack of focus on surface water flooding is an oversight, not least because Environment Agency figures show that 2.8m UK homes are at risk of this type of flooding - and with towns and cities expanding, this number could easily increase. It may also infer that householders who don’t live in close proximity to a river or the coast are at low risk of flooding, which as recent events demonstrate, frequently isn’t the case. “As discussed in our recent report Future Spaces, which looks at how the built environment will be shaped in the next 10 years, Sustainable Urban Drainage Systems (SuDS) are an incredibly important strategy for tackling surface water flooding. SuDS are absent from the Review. Surface Water Flooding: The Forgotten Threat? “While barriers and pumps can be used to minimise damage in the event of a flood, SuDS are an intelligent preventative measure. They work by mimicking natural drainage processes, allowing excess rainwater to soak into the ground as it falls. Importantly, SuDS come in many different forms, meaning they’re suitable for all sorts of environments, including heavily built-up areas like cities and towns. Permeable paving, harvesting rainwater using rain gardens, plus more sensitive urban design which anticipates potential flood risk, all form important parts of the solution. “In actual fact there is legislation in place around the installation of SuDS but enforcement can, at best, be described as ‘patchy’. Frustratingly, the Review does not even call for more effective implementation of this existing legislation. This is a missed opportunity as, if properly implemented, these measures would help to mitigate the risk of surface water flooding in the first place and reduce the need for last-ditch defences – which, as the report recognises, can never be relied upon to provide 100% protection. The measures discussed in the Government’s National Flood Resilience Review may indeed be a step in the right direction, but overall the Review fails to take a holistic view of flood risk and mitigation, instead concentrating on last ditch defences in the face of particular types of flooding. An equal focus on sensible, pragmatic methods of holding back and slowing the flow of surface water would have provided a longer-term solution to the flooding crisis. Although we welcome and encourage any steps to minimise the misery caused by flooding, it remains to be seen how much more resilient the UK will really be to flooding this winter.” Sophie Rowe [email protected] 01422 312 902 T Sustainability & Eco