Government paper on flood resilience highlights vulnerability of critical infrastructure

Government paper on flood resilience highlights vulnerability of critical infrastructure

The government's new policy paper on flood resilience has found that hundreds of critical infrastructure sites are at serious risk from floods. 

The government published the long-awaited National Flood Resilience Review on September 8, 2016. The Review looked at assessing flood risk, reducing the likelihood of flooding, and making the country as resilient as possible to flooding.

The Review found that 530 critical infrastructure sites, including water and telecoms installations, are at serious risk from floods, each potentially affecting at least 10,000 people. 

The paper says that to improve the infrastructure resilience in the short-term, the water and telecommunications industries will make a detailed assessment o; key local infrastructure sites which are not resilient to an extreme flood event. These assessments will identify measures which could improve resilience of sites in the short term. The two industries have committed to deliver these temporary improvements to resilience before Christmas 2016, where this is the appropriate solution.

The Review was set up in January 2016 following severe flooding across Northern England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland  last winter. The financial impact of storms Desmond, Eva and Frank on homeowners and businesses has been estimated at well over £1 billion. 

The Review allocates £12.5m for temporary flood defences, such as barriers and pumps. These will be stored in strategic locations across the country, so that they can be quickly deployed wherever and whenever there is a need. The government said that this means that by this winter four times more temporary barriers will be available.

The paper also sets out a new stress test of the risk of flooding from rivers and the sea in England. For the first time, Met Office forecasts of extreme rainfall scenarios will be linked with Environment Agency modelling to provide a new assessment of flood risk.

The body which advises the Government on climate change issues, the Committee on Climate Change, said the document had ignored the risks posed by flooding from heavy rainfall overwhelming sewers. It also failed to explain how the £700 million set aside for flood risk management in the 2016 Budget would be spent.

Flooding was identified as the greatest potential threat to the UK from climate change in the governments 2012  Climate Change Risk Assessment (CCRA) report.