A radical rethink on flood protection needed - WWT report - WWT

Nature-based solutions must be at the heart of a radical rethink on flood protection.

The recent impacts of storms Babet, Ciaran and Debi have exposed how unprepared the UK is to the growing risk of flooding caused by climate change. Our new report is calling on the Government to increase the amount they spend on natural flood prevention by an extra £130 million per year to help address this.

Currently, only a small percentage of flood prevention schemes in the UK use natural flood management (NFM) where processes such as re-wiggling rivers, restoring wetlands and planting hedgerows, are used to sustainably and effectively slow down and absorb floodwater.

The Government has taken positive steps towards recognising the value of NFM, however out of the £5.2 billion allocated to flood prevention from 2021 to 2027, only a small percentage of that has been awarded to NFM initiatives.

Instead, the vast majority of the nation’s flood prevention effort is still focused on traditional concrete defences, which while still having a role to play, are often overwhelmed by more frequent and intense flooding, are expensive to build and maintain and don’t provide other benefits.

We're calling for this approach to be radically overhauled as the frequency of extreme weather events increases due to climate change. We want to see government make NFM the default option for flood protection, to make urban and rural communities flood resilient over the long-term. NFM can be used as a stand-alone measure or complement traditional flood defences when placed upstream.

Tom Hayek, Senior Project Manager (Nature-based Solutions) at WWT explained further: “Flooding is bad for the economy, bad for people and bad for nature. Traditional flood defences often exacerbate problems by diverting floodwater, and the flooding impacts, elsewhere. Naturally managing water in the right place is a more effective, more sustainable and less expensive way to manage flood risk. Natural solutions, like wetlands, store water and slowly release it rather than seeing areas inundated whenever heavy rains fall, and provide other benefits such as boosting biodiversity”

Read the Wetlands for Flood Resilience report

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Posted On: 23/11/2023

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