National Flood Resilience Review published

New approaches to make the UK more resilient to flooding have been outlined in the government’s National Flood Resilience Review.

Andrea Leadsom, the new Environment Secretary in Theresa May’s Cabinet, has reviewed the lessons that have been learnt from the flooding last Winter, where 16,000 houses in Cumbria and Yorkshire were flooded, with the Review hoping to make the country more prepared in the years to come.

The Review sets out £12.5 million for new temporary defences to be built, including barriers and high volume pumps, at seven strategic locations around the country. By this Winter, the Environment Agency (EA) will have four times more temporary barriers than last year.

Also included is a call for utility companies’ to commit to increasing flood protection of their key local infrastructure, such as phone networks and water treatment works, so they are resilient to extreme flooding.

The Review also signifies the introduction of a new stress test of the risk of flooding from rivers and the sea in England. For the first time, Met Office forecasts of extreme rainfall scenarios will be linked with Environment Agency modelling to provide a new assessment of flood risk.

Leadsom said: “Last Winter we saw just how devastating flooding can be. This review sets out clear actions so we are better prepared to respond quickly in the event of future flooding and can strengthen the nation’s flood defences.

“Work is already underway towards £12.5 million of new temporary defences stationed around England, better protection for our infrastructure and new flood modelling that makes better use of data and technology.

“We are absolutely committed to reducing the risk of flooding by investing £2.5 billion up to 2021 so we can help protect families, homes and businesses this winter.”

Sir James Bevan, chief executive of the Environment Agency, added: “We worked closely with the government on this review. I welcome these plans setting out how the country can become more resilient to flooding in future. The extra funding will help us to do even more for local communities so that we can better protect homes and businesses and respond even more rapidly and flexibly when extreme weather strikes.”

The Review has been met with some criticism. Friends of the Earth campaigner Guy Shrubsole said: "This review suggests a sea-change in government understanding of floods, but its recommendations are a wash-out.

"£12.5m for temporary flood defences is a drop in the ocean when the review concludes that winter rainfall could increase by up to 30% in future in parts of the UK - signalling politicians' acceptance that the climate is changing radically.

"This is a huge increase in rainfall on top of the unprecedented extreme weather that caused such suffering last winter, and will put thousands more homes and businesses at risk.

"Yet the review ducks a commitment to higher long-term investment in defences, and contains nothing on working with nature to reduce flooding, such as planting trees. These are challenges Andrea Leadsom must now address, or many more households will face the misery of flooding in future."