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Flooding: time for a pro-active, joined-up approach

Flooding (c) James Hutton Institute
"We at the James Hutton Institute think a co-ordinated response is right, recognising that the risk of flooding can only be mitigated through the application of a combination of natural solutions, construction measures and innovation.

Scientists at the James Hutton Institute have backed calls for the implementation of a long-term strategy to tackle flood prevention. The House of Commons Environmental Audit Committee have today published their “Flooding: Cooperation across Government” report. The clear message being that even though the water from this winter’s flooding may now have receded; the need to strengthen coordinated, multi-agency action throughout the whole year is a strategic priority.

Some of society’s most challenging questions in the coming decades will concern water. In the UK today it is estimated that one in six properties are currently at risk of flooding. It is predicted that the UK’s rainfall patterns will continue to be more extreme, leading to potentially greater flood risk and longer periods of drought.

Flood management is a topical, UK-wide and emotive subject. There is clearly now recognition that we cannot continue to deal with flooding as a seasonal deluge. Indeed, the report itself highlights the importance of having a more robust and long-term strategy to deal with flooding using natural flood management in concert with the built environment.

Dr Richard Allan, manager of the Centre of Expertise for Waters (CREW) noted: “CREW has been actively working with both the Scottish and UK Governments on flood risk management, and this will continue to be one of our most important strategic priorities going forward. It is encouraging to see that there continues to be a sense of urgency in addressing flood risk and that this is underpinned by cross-agency support coupled with a whole approach to both natural flood management measures and the constructed environment.”

We at the James Hutton Institute think a co-ordinated response is right, recognising that the risk of flooding can only be mitigated through the application of a combination of natural solutions, construction measures and innovation.

Dr Marc Stutter, research leader at the Institute, said: “Combined approaches for flooding prevention and adaptation should be widespread across urban and rural areas. Simple designs, working with natural processes can be achieved cost effectively and should be combined with bigger traditional schemes to give long-term resilience against climate extremes; neither should be considered alone, they are hugely complementary.”

The report showed that there was general agreement across the board that there should be a move towards the use of holistic catchment approaches underpinned by closer cross-agency co-operation.

Study lead at the James Hutton Institute, Dr Mark Wilkinson, said: “Climate change projections for the UK suggest that total rainfall during the winter months will continue to rise and with it the risk of flooding increases.

“Flood schemes which consider using the land’s natural defences to slow river flow and reduce flooding (in conjunction with other FRM strategies) could be a cost-effective way of tackling one of the biggest problems facing the UK today and has particular benefits that support sustainable rural communities. Deployment of natural flood measures has multiple additional benefits such as safeguarding ecosystems services, enhancing biodiversity and having the potential to contribute to carbon storage.”

There are many areas in the UK where natural flood management, or so-called soft engineering solutions, has made a significant local impact and potentially protect people’s homes from some of the most severe impacts of the type of flooding we have seen.

Notes to editors: 

Experts from the James Hutton Institute will be on hand throughout the Royal Highland Show (23-26 June, Ingliston, Edinburgh, EH28 8NB) examining the importance of natural flood management.
 

More information from: 

Nicola Strachan, Communications Coordinator, Tel: 01382 568750 (direct line), +44 (0)344 928 5428 (switchboard) or 07786 80551 (mobile).


Printed from /news/flooding-time-pro-active-joined-approach on 21/08/19 11:56:58 PM

The James Hutton Research Institute is the result of the merger in April 2011 of MLURI and SCRI. This merger formed a new powerhouse for research into food, land use, and climate change.