Flood crisis was preventable, say experts

Water management techniques could have prevented the effect of recent flooding on villages, towns and farmland, say flood experts.

In an open letter, they called on the government to adopt a clear strategy to prevent future flooding episodes.

In the letter, they urged David Cameron to convene “without delay” a cross-departmental conference, including representatives from DEFRA, the Environment Agency, and Natural Resources Wales.

“We need to look at how forestry, land management and soft-engineered flood alleviation schemes can hold back water in the upper reaches and how dredging may assist in the lower reaches,” said the group.

“Building and land that cannot be properly protected should be made resilient to withstand flooding. All new housing on flood plains must be resilient when built.”

The letter, signed by 17 flood experts representing organisations including the Institution of Environmental Science, the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors and the Arboricultural Association, was published in The Daily Telegraph on Friday (21 February).

See also Flood-hit farmers – how you can help

In response, a Downing Street spokesman said: “We are looking at all potential options to tackle flooding and are spending £2.4bn on flood management and protection from coastal erosion. That is more than ever before.

“We have already announced a record level of capital investment at £370m in 2015-16 rising to over £400m in 2020-21 as part of our long-term plan to improve resilience.

“We need to employ a range of techniques to alleviate flooding, including dredging in some areas. We will look at the lessons to be learned to see where additional flood protection can help.”

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The call was made as the Met Office confirmed that the UK has had the wettest winter since records began in 1910.


With just over a week to go until the end of the season, figures for 1 December to 19 February show the UK has received an average of 486.8mm of rain, narrowly above the previous record of 485.1mm set in 1995.

Wales has seen 691.8mm of rain, beating the previous record of 684.1mm in 1995. While Scotland will likely beat its own record of 649.5mm for this period over the next few days as 634.3mm of rainfall has already fallen.

The Environment Agency said two severe flood warnings remain in the Somerset Levels, which has suffered some of the worst flooded farmland. There are 59 flood warnings and 117 flood alerts currently in place across England and Wales.

Forecasters are predicting the unsettled weather to continue this weekend with showers and some heavy rain predicted, mixed with some sunny spells.

See photos See Somerset farmer’s floods struggle


Current record wettest winters    
 Country  Year  Rainfall  Winter 2014 to date*
 UK  2014  486.8mm  New record
 ENGLAND  1915  392.7mm  370.4mm
WALES  2014  691.8mm  New record
 SCOTLAND  1995  649.5mm  634.3mm
 N IRELAND  1994  489.7mm  434.5mm

*These are provisional figures from 1 December 2013 to 19 February 2014 provided by the Met Office which could change after final quality control checks on data.

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