ARCHIVE: Managing flood and coastal change
Around 5.2 million properties in England - or one in six properties - are currently at risk of flooding from surface water, rivers and the sea. Spending by Government has more than doubled in the last ten years, and this has reduced the risk for many communities around the country.
The need for increased funding
Latest predictions are that in order to maintain the same level of protection we have now against flooding from rivers and the sea, funding will need to at least double again by 2035. This is because aging defences will need to be maintained and replaced, and because of the impacts of climate change. (We also expect climate change to increase the risk of surface water flooding however our understanding of this is less advanced so we cannot yet estimate the likely costs).
Finding this extra funding will be a challenge, and we can’t assume that central government will meet the costs alone - we need to explore how those that benefit from flood defences might be able to share the costs (see the funding and investment pages for more).
Alternatives to defences: “adaptation”
We also need to look at the whole range of options for reducing the risks. Government is committed to defending where it is sustainable and affordable to do so but we cannot assume that building defences is always the best option. Nor can we assume that defences completely remove the risk. We need to look at other ways that communities can adapt to cope with the risks, for example:
- effective town planning can ensure that new developments do not increase flood and coastal erosion risk;
- householders and businesses can protect themselves against flooding with property level protection measures like flood boards;
- different methods of land management can slow the rate at which rainwater travels across land and into watercourses, to reduce the likelihood of flooding
- the use of natural features such as saltmarshes, sand dunes and flood plain storage areas can help reduce the potential impacts of flooding and coastal erosion;
- different approaches to supporting communities adapt to a changing coastline, such as those being explored by the coastal change pathfinders.
Page last modified: 29 March 2010
Page published: 21 April 2009