Sir James Bevan urges “twin track” approach to flood management and will warn against the “wrong kind of development” on flood plains in speech.
A new ‘twin track’ approach focused on better flood protection and resilience is needed to deal with the climate emergency following weeks of record breaking river levels and flooding across the UK, the Chief Executive of the Environment Agency will argue today (Tuesday 25 February).
In a speech at the World Water-Tech Innovation Summit in central London, Sir James Bevan will say that while we must continue to build and maintain strong defences to reduce the risk of communities being flooded, in a climate emergency, communities will also need to become more resilient so that when flooding does happen it poses much less risk to people, does much less damage and life can get back to normal much quicker.
Sir James will say:
“First, we must continue to do what we have been doing for some years now: building and maintaining strong defences to reduce the risk of communities being flooded.
But in the face of the climate emergency, we now need a second, parallel, track: making our communities more resilient to flooding so that when it does happen it poses much less risk to people, does much less damage, and life can get back to normal much quicker.
The best way to defuse the weather bomb is better protection and stronger resilience. We need both.”
The Environment Agency is already spending £2.6bn building new flood defences that will better protect 300,000 properties by 2021 and over £1bn to maintain existing defences in England. Over 200,000 properties have already benefitted. Of that £2.6bn, 55% is going to reduce flood risk from rivers and 45% is reducing risk on the coast. The investment programme will also better protect nearly 6,000 miles of motorways and local roads, 300 miles of railways and over 700,00 acres of farmland.