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CCC welcomes National Flood Resilience Review, but says further action needed to address UK flood risk

The Committee on Climate Change (CCC) welcomes the publication of the National Flood Resilience Review today.

The review was commissioned by David Cameron’s Government following record rainfall totals and extensive flood damage last winter. Recent research suggests that climate change has made flooding events of this kind more likely to occur.

Increased risk of flooding linked to climate change is one of six priority areas identified for further, and urgent, action in the Adaptation-Sub Committee’s UK Climate Change Risk Assessment Evidence Report published in July.

The Committee notes, in particular, that:

  • The chance of widespread flooding has previously been misunderstood and miscommunicated to the public;
  • Further flood events of the scale seen last winter can be expected to occur in England on a relatively frequent basis;
  • Climate change can be expected to make such events more frequent and more extreme as storms can hold more moisture in a warmer atmosphere;
  • A systematic assessment of important UK infrastructure sites and assets found that many were not protected to an adequate standard and that there are now plans in place to address these shortcomings.

However, the National Flood Resilience Review falls short in a number of key areas:

  • It fails to address the Adaptation Sub-Committee’s call – in its 2015 statutory report to Parliament on the UK’s National Adaptation Programme – for a new and comprehensive, long-term strategy to address the risk of flooding.
  • The remit of the review was to focus on short-term measures that can be taken to better protect key infrastructure sites, from river and coastal flooding, before the winter. However, there is scope for a more comprehensive assessment of the long-term measures that will need to be taken to make homes and communities more resilient to the flooding that will still occur even with flood defences in place.
  • The review also ignores the risks posed by flooding from heavy rainfall overwhelming sewers – linked with the majority of flood damage in some recent events (for example, in 2007).
  • The report does not explain how the £700 million extra for flood risk management in the 2016 Budget will be spent. Of the £700 million, £350 million was held back to take forward the review’s findings. The review details how only a small proportion of this will be spent.
  • The review lacks specific detail in terms of what will be done by when. This means it will be difficult to tell in the years to come whether the review has had a positive impact.

Commenting on the publication of today’s report, Lord Deben, Chairman of the Committee on Climate Change said:

“We welcome the publication of the National Flood Resilience Review, but it falls short of what the CCC has been calling for. As well as implementing short-term measures, such as better protecting key sites before flooding hits, we need a new and comprehensive, long-term strategy to address flood risk in this country. As the review acknowledges, there is also poor understanding about the chance of flooding among the UK public, and a significant number of key infrastructure sites remain vulnerable. Further flood events on the scale seen last winter can be expected, and the situation is set to get worse with climate change. There is still much work to do to protect our homes and communities from the risks that flooding poses, now and in the future.”

Notes to editors

To arrange an interview with Lord Deben, CCC Chairman, or Daniel Johns, CCC Head of Adaptation, contact the CCC’s Communications Manager, Jo Barrett on 0207 592 6262 or 07940 703911.