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Consultation response: House of Commons Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee inquiry into future flood prevention

18 March 2016


The Royal Society has submitted evidence to the Commons Environment, Food and Rural Affairs committee inquiry into future flood prevention.

The response draws on the Society's work on resilience to extreme weather, highlighting that:

  • The UK’s climate and weather modelling capability is world leading and significant progress has been made over the past few decades in improving the ability to forecast and predict weather relevant for flooding, though areas for improvement remain. 
  • Within a national strategy, the UK should consider a portfolio of flood defences, including ecosystem-based approaches, and should monitor and evaluate their effectiveness in order to improve future decision-making.
  • Defra and Environment Agency policies include elements that aim to encourage the use of innovative approaches to managing flood risk. However, more evidence of their cost-effectiveness is needed to support those who plan and implement flood management strategies locally.
  • Long-term planning and investment in resilience-building strategies is essential. While immediate flood risk is important, wider factors such as future climate change may need to be emphasised more strongly in local decision-making to ensure the resilience of communities and infrastructure in the face of increasing extreme weather. One way to dis-incentivise development in areas of high risk would be to place a value on flood resilience. Another step might be to require public and private sector organisations to report their financial exposure to extreme weather, in a standardised form.