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National flood review to set defence strategy beyond six-year planning

Whitehall has spelled out the terms of reference for its new National Flood Resilience Review, announced shortly after the devastating Storm Desmond battered the north of England in December.

The review, led by minister for government policy Oliver Letwin MP, will focus on four key areas to assess how the country can better protect itself from future catastrophes.

These will include updating England’s climate modelling and stress-testing its resilience to flood risk, assessing the resilience of important infrastructure (such as electricity substations), looking at temporary defences and setting out future investment strategies.

With a report due in the summer, the review will include members from the DCLG, Defra, DECC, the Treasury, the government’s chief scientist and Environment Agency chief Sir James Bevan.

The review will also align closely with Defra’s work on integrated catchment-level management of the water cycle in central government’s 25-year environment plan.

The government will start implementing any short-term recommendations and review the longer term strategy in the autumn, which will include close consultation with its new National Infrastructure Commission.

The first task of the group will be to assess the damage that extreme rainfall could cause across England, looking at how cities, towns and villages are protected against flooding.

This will look at crucial elements of infrastructure, water treatment plants, telecoms and hospitals to improve the understanding of the whole picture and evaluate whether current modelling assumptions are still sound.

Using this evidence, Whitehall will then consider a longer term strategy to alleviate flood risks nationwide, including by looking at temporary and flexible responses and hard flood defences beyond the current six-year programme.

The strategy will assess risk in England’s core cities and consider the role of the government and wider society in reducing flood risk.

An update of the review group’s work is expected in the spring.

Read more about flooding defences and resilience in the upcoming February/March edition of PSE.


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