UK flooding: ‘We must learn to live with water’

The ever-increasing threat of flooding cannot be fully defended, so the UK must adopt a new approach where we learn to 'live with water', argues a new white paper from built environment science centre BRE.

BRE welcomed the Treasury’s £2.3 billion investment in flood defences, but says that a new approach to dealing with flooding is required whereby buildings are made flood-resilient. Scroll down for full report.

BRE argues that flooding is inevitable as climate change and urbanisation have put more than 5.2 million homes in England at risk of flooding. Annual costs of flood damage are currently at least £1.1 billion and are expected to rise in coming years.

Across Europe, flooding has been traditionally managed by large-scale engineering solutions protecting conurbations from obvious risks such as rivers and the sea. However floods are now occurring within these defences requiring buildings to be adapted appropriately

Resiliency measures

BRE Centre for Resilience director Dr Stephen Garvin said: “Our urban environment continues to grow apace – surface water management needs to be embedded in the new developments we construct with things like sustainable urban drainage systems, green roofs to decrease water run off as well as localised flood resilient technologies.”

One of these technologies – a project known as Flood Resistant Property (FRP) – counterintuitively allows water to gradually enter the property when it reaches 600mm depth. The controlled inundation of the property reduces pressure being applied on the walls and thus avoids structural collapse.

The criticism of current Government flood defence policy is nothing new, as Friends of the Earth called the plans ‘wholly inadequate’, while Greenpeace said: “The funding is still well short of what the government’s own advisors say is needed as our climate starts to change.”

BRE White Paper: Future Flood Resilient Built Environment

Brad Allen

Action inspires action. Stay ahead of the curve with sustainability and energy newsletters from edie