UK too health and safety focused to embrace water innovation

Innovative solutions to flooding problems in the Far East would struggle to get past health and safety watchdogs, according to engineering experts.

The Royal Academy of Engineering's Extreme Flooding: Malaysian and UK experiences event on Tuesday (October 13) heard from leading engineers.

Malaysian Department of Irrigation and Drainage director general, Dato Husaini Sulaiman, told delegates in London about the innovation in his country.

Explaining the Storm Management And Road Tunnel (SMART) which runs underneath the capital Kuala Lumpur.

SMART was built to alleviate both rainfall in one of the world's wettest places, with an average of 3.5metres of rainfall a year, and traffic congestion.

The tunnel, split over three levels, has traffic in the top two while the bottom is for water, in flood events the tunnel is simply closed and flood water poured in.

Mr Husaini Sulaman explains: "It would flood the whole tunnel in flood cases.

"Since it was built in 2008 it has only been used once ... this did not use the top deck, but it's only a matter of time.

We've closed it about 20 times but the river and water levels have always subsided ... I can't take any chances."

Responding to a question about whether the UK would ever introduce similar technology the Welsh Assembly's head of flood and coastal risk management, Dr Peter Jones explained there was a way to go.

He said: "It's part of the industrial approach in this country, we need to take advantage of new technology.

"But, there's an issue around how we facilitate this."

Luke Walsh



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