Posted: Friday 7th March 2014

The Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management (CIWEM) calls for a long-term, coordinated approach to the planning, building and maintaining of flood protection in its new Policy Position Statement, Flood and Coastal Erosion Risk Management (FCERM).

Regular extreme weather events in recent years and the resulting surface, river and coastal floods have shown that serious priority needs to be given to both planning and funding for flood management. Currently more than 5.5 million (one in six) properties in England and Wales are at risk of flooding from all water sources. Added to this, climate change is predicted to cause changes to rainfall patterns and increase the likelihood of both sea and river flooding and coastal erosion.

To ensure we are prepared for the future, CIWEM’s latest policy statement on flood and coastal erosion risk management calls for the strengthening of existing partnerships and for an adaptive and flexible approach to flood and coastal management. This should recognise the importance of spending on actions such as emergency planning and response, forecasting and warning services, and flood and coastal erosion risk mapping, modelling and risk assessment.

The maintenance of flood and coastal infrastructure needs to be given greater recognition by the Government in order to prolong the life of existing flood and coastal management infrastructure. This investment is essential since the Environment Agency4 states that “just to maintain current standards of flood protection in England alone we need to spend over £1 billion per year by 2035”. Maintenance activities provide greater returns on investment than new schemes at ten pounds for every one pound spent.

CIWEM also asserts that new funding routes need to be identified and the process for identifying and attracting external funds should be simplified. The present contribution of partnership funding from private sources is small and further incentives are needed to encourage the private sector to contribute. Support is also needed for local communities to help them build up their own community resilience.

CIWEM Interim Chief Executive Nigel Hendley says:

“If we do not manage the risks of flooding and coastal erosion in a sustainable way, there will be continued loss of life and property, extensive damage to the UK economy, and ongoing misery for millions of people.

However, it is clear many people believe that flooding can be prevented and coastal erosion can be stopped. This is not realistic and it is crucial that we educate everyone about the impacts of climate change and manage their expectations as to what can be achieved. CIWEM’s new policy statement aims to raise awareness of these issues.”

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May 2021

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