Consultation on flood and coastal erosion in England highlights need for new standard of resilience

Published: 8 May 2019

By: NIC

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A flooding sign on a flooded country road

The Environment Agency has today begun consulting on the national flood and coastal erosion risk management strategy for England proposing a new approach based on a recommendation made in the National Infrastructure Assessment.

The Agency’s strategy will ensure the country is prepared for a potential 4° C rise in global temperatures and aims to ensure all infrastructure is resilient to flooding and coastal change by 2050.

With over five million homes in England at risk of flooding and coastal erosion, the strategy says more should be done to help home owners recover from flooding, including through encouraging home improvements to make dwellings more resilient. It also proposes giving communities a range of tools to give them greater control over how they prepare for, and respond to, flooding and coastal change.

The National Infrastructure Assessment, published in July, highlighted the growing threat from flooding and coastal erosion. It recommended a national standard should be set for resilience to flooding with an annual likelihood of 0.5 per cent by 2050, where feasible – an even higher standard of 0.1 per cent was proposed for more densely populated areas – along with a rolling six year funding programme.

The Assessment called on the Environment Agency to update its plans for all coastal areas in England by the end of 2023, in order to show how risk can be better managed for a range of scenarios and to encourage appropriate interventions. It also recommended that planning authorities should ensure all new development is resilient to flooding at this new national standard for its lifetime and does not increase risk elsewhere.

Responding to today’s report, Chair of the National Infrastructure Commission Sir John Armitt said:

“Climate change is a real and growing threat to our way of life and nowhere is this felt more keenly than those parts of the country facing an increased risk of flooding. So we welcome the Agency’s approach and their endorsement of our call for a national standard for flood resilience.

“In many cases, we won’t be able to stop flooding and coastal erosion. But that doesn’t mean we should just accept it. We must ensure that communities are resilient and as our Assessment showed, this is affordable and achievable.”

“It’s essential that the government’s National Infrastructure Strategy, published this autumn as part of the Spending Review, adopts our recommendation and backs this up with a robust and effective plan for funding and delivery.”

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