‘Climate change is happening now’: Roadmap sets out Environment Agency’s new flood risk plan

The growing threat of flooding from rivers, the sea, and surface water is the focus of a new roadmap launched by The Environment Agency (EA) yesterday, setting out practical actions to be taken over the next four years to tackle escalating flood-related risks .

The Flood and Coastal Erosion Risk Management (FCERM) Strategy Roadmap builds on existing flood management projects and sets out how the UK can be better prepared for the unavoidable impacts of climate change by ensuring infrastructure is more resilient to flood and coastal erosion threats and businesses, households, and emergency services are ready to respond and adapt to flooding.

As such, the roadmap sets out a raft of measures designed to ensure new homes are better protected from flooding and maximise the use of nature to enhance flood and coastal resilience while aiding nature recovery.

Improving the flood resilience of the UK’s roads, railways, and other vital national infrastructure is also considered essential, while enhancements of flood forecasting and warning services must be a priority to help people be better prepared to respond to flood events, the Roadmap argues.

Sir James Bevan, chief executive of the Environment Agency, said “climate change is happening now, and its impacts will continue to worsen,” warning that there were limits to how effective reslience measures would prove

“Rainfall patterns are changing, causing more frequent flooding, and while we continue to protect and prepare coastal communities from rising sea levels, it is inevitable that at some point some of our communities will have to move back from the coast,” he said.

The roadmap sets out a series of specific measures the Environment Agency will undertake through to 2026. For example, the agency is to develop a new national assessment of flood risk from rivers, the sea, and surface water that will provide better data and mapping to inform future risk and investment decisions. And it will ramp up work with coastal groups to update the policies and actions in Shoreline Management Plans so they reflect adaptation to a changing climate.

Meanwhile, joint investment projects with the likes of National Highways and Network Rail aim to ensure national infrastructure is resilient to future flooding and coastal change.

“This roadmap sets out how we can build a more resilient nation,” said Floods Minister Rebecca Pow. It will work alongside our record investment of £5.2bn in flood and coastal defences between 2021 and 2027 to help better protect communities. Climate change will only bring more extreme weather and this roadmap will spur on the timely action required to manage and coastal flood risk, help reduce the costly impacts and manage the risks to people’s homes and businesses across the country.”

The publication of the Roadmap comes after the Environment Agency announced that it had exceeded its target in delivering the government’s £2.6bn investment in flood and coastal defense schemes since 2015, better protecting more than 314,000 homes.

However, critics have accused the government of undermining flood protection efforts over the past through a series of cuts to funding programs that were later reversed, while the Climate Change Committee has previously warned that the UK’s climate resilience strategy remains underpowered in the face of escalating climax effects.

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