Nature-based solutions to flooding

We need a holistic approach.

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The East Devon Watch blog has been quite critical of the Leader of the Devon County Council’s views on our readiness for flooding:

Despite what John Hart says – UK flood defence plans are inadequate | eastdevonwatch.org

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The piece quotes from the Guardian – which in turn is quite critical of the Environment Secretary’s views on the country’s readiness – and what could be done to improve things:

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UK flood defence plans are inadequate, warn scientists

More investment in flood defences and improved planning for future disasters are urgently needed, scientists have warned.

They predict that the number of extreme wet days – which have already increased this century – will continue to rise in the coming decades and will bring even greater devastation than that experienced this month after Storm Ciara and Storm Dennis swept across the country…

Last week George Eustice, the environment secretary, said he wanted to see more nature-based solutions, such as the construction of dams made of natural materials and the planting of trees in upper catchment areas. These would hold on to water and prevent it from pouring too quickly into rivers and estuaries.

But this approach was dismissed as inadequate by Roger Falconer, professor of water management at Cardiff University. “It is like putting a small sticking plaster on a major open wound to control profuse bleeding. It would certainly be insufficient when dealing with the 30% increase in winter rainfall which the Met Office has predicted for some areas.” … ( by 2070)

Prof Robert Wilby, of the University of Loughborough, told the Guardian that the government should review its housebuilding targets in view of the increased risks from floods.

This was backed by Mohammad Heidarzadeh, head of coastal engineering at Brunel University. “The UK’s flood defence systems were developed decades ago and are not fit to address the current climate situation,” he said. “While the interval for major floods was 15 to 20 years in the past century, it has shortened to two to five years in the past decade. The country needs further investment in its flood systems, but such investment should be within a holistic and integrated framework.”

UK flood defence plans are inadequate, warn scientists | theguardian.com

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It is clear, then, that more needs to be done – but there does seem to be some consensus emerging – that we need a “holistic” approach.

And this can include “nature-based solutions to flooding” rather than pouring yet more concrete on our landscape:

Nature-Based Solutions To Flooding | manomet.org

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These ideas have been around for some time:

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A short animation film on river management (GEMAPI) by the Rhone Mediterranean Corsica water Agency.
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And we’ve got some clever ways of dealing with flood risk:
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Including in Sidmouth:
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Artists impression of the proposed Phase 2 works at the Knowle
   
© Vision Group for Sidmouth 2005-2020