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Flooding may drive communities out of towns



Climate change could trigger such severe flooding that some towns in England would need to be abandoned.

That is the warning from the Environment Agency as it launched its long-term flood risk plan today at Brunel University London. 

Calling for an extra £1bn yearly for flood defences, agency chairman Emma Howard Boyd said ‘we cannot win a war against water’ by building bigger walls. 

Unveiled in front of Brunel flood and coastal engineering experts, the 50-year strategy to manage flood risk and coastal erosion plans for a potential 4°C of warming by 2100.

“In addition to strengthening coastal defences, the country needs a different approach in view of the dire predictions by climate change experts,” said Brunel’s Dr Carola Koenig.

“As an island, not only are we seeing increased demands to build on flood plains due to population growth, many significant key industries such as power stations and petro-chemical plants are on the coast.”

Director of Brunel’s pioneering Flood and Coastal Engineering courses, Dr Koenig added: “Because of the increasing impact of climate change, we need to be increasingly resilient to flooding. To tackle the associated design challenges for housing, business and industries having a well-skilled engineering work force will be key.”

The plan calls for property owners to rebuild flooded homes in safer spots and with improvements such as raised electrics and flood doors. But in some places "the threat may be so significant that recovery will not always be the best solution", the Agency said, and communities would need help to "move out of harm's way".

“I am delighted to launch our draft Flood and Coastal Erosion Risk Management Strategy at Brunel University London today,” said Environment Agency Director of Flood Risk Julie Foley.

“The Flood and Coastal Engineering course at Brunel is a prime example of how we are working with next generation towards a climate-resilient future.”

Backed by the Environment Agency and civil engineers HR Wallingford, the courses launched in 2017 to train graduates to work in the UK and overseas.

Second-year foundation degree student Alexander Simmons said: “Ultimately, my generation and future ones will rely on the changes this strategy is promoting to help ensure we continue to enjoy the fantastic environment in our country."

Opening the launch, Brunel Vice Provost Research Professor Geoffrey Rodgers said: “Planning to make the UK resilient to flood and coast erosion is an economic opportunity for the UK, and developing that expertise will undoubtedly create jobs and growth. 

“It is vital that universities be engaged in the business of managing flood and coastal erosion risk, and for Brunel to be involved fits in perfectly with our past, present and future strategy.”


Find out more about Flood and Coastal Engineering at Brunel 


Reported by:

Hayley Jarvis, Media Relations
+44 (0)1895 268176