Leading bodies want proactive approach to tackle flooding

Seven leading industry bodies, including CIWEM and the Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE), are calling for a more joined up approach to tackling urban flood risk.

In a joint policy statement developed by ICE, CIWEM, RIBA, RICS, RTPI, RUSI and the Landscape Institute, the group, which collectively represents more than 250,000 environment professionals, said it is no longer feasible to continue trying to defend communities from all flood risk. Instead, future strategies will have to be based on building flood resilience into urban design, and community support. The group added that to realise full benefit, resilience measures will need to contribute to creating quality urban environments and to managing the wideraspects of the water cycle.

David Balmforth, chair of the multi-institutional group, said: "Flooding is a very real risk in the UK, and one that is only going to get worse. If we rely solely on flood defences and ever larger drainage conduits, we will not be able to keep pace with climate change.

"We need to rethink our approach to urban design and the development of our urban communities. Flood risk management must be at the front of the planning and developmentprocess, not at the end."

According to the group, this means using more resistant materials and methods in construction, and creating space in urban areas for floodwater to safely pass on the surface during extreme events. Flood risk management should be factored into all new development, both to ensure that new urban areas are sufficiently resilient and to avoid impacting on existing areas downstream.

Balmforth said: "We have a real opportunity to create exciting and pleasant urban communities but to do this all the professions will have to work closely together, and government will have to lead by setting appropriate legislation and regulation in place."

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