Inter-country cooperation is key to managing flood risk

Drawing on flood management experience from neighbouring EU countries is vital in order to tackle floodwater issues effectively at home, UK officials have confirmed.

Through a project named Floodscape, which is managed by the Environment Agency (EA) and part-funded by the European Commission (EC), a succession of pilot schemes are now being run around the UK.

Drawing on knowledge from other European countries that are also prone to flooding, Floodscape also aims to investigate ways of integrating sustainable architectural designs into highly functional flood management systems.

Individual projects include the re-introduction of tidal flooding in the Thames Marshes; the re-creation of a tidal meadow in west London; and a scheme in the Thames Gateway area to show how a re-development site can be planned to cope with spatial development as well as floodwater control.

While findings in the UK will also act to support projects being run in other EU countries, Floodscape has drawn on experience gained from parallel projects in other places such as Germany and the Netherlands.

"The insights from working with partners like the Dutch are invaluable," said Egon Walesch, the Floodscape project manager at the EA. "Flood has played an integral part of the history of the Netherlands and Dutch people are skilled in adapting their lives to take account of their surroundings. This has informed our consultative strategy of involving our local communities in Floodscape to create a more inclusive approach."

Approximately 514,000 properties in the British capital alone are at risk from tidal and fluvial flooding. In the case of a flooding incident, EA figures show that this could be worth an estimated £80 billion in damages.

"We have to accept that climate change is with us," Mr Walesch added. "The key is to turn a potentially negative situation into a positive opportunity to improve landscapes so that we derive added benefits from effective measure to manage flood risk."

Originally developed and financed as part of the EU's Interreg IIIB North West Europe (NWE) trans-national cooperation programme, the Floodscape has partner projects in Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany.

By Jane Kettle



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