In 2018, Flood Protection Solutions Ltd worked alongside Cranfield University on a Building Resilience into Risk Management (BRIM) project, to measure the effectiveness of flood groups. The report was designed to identify what worked well, provide recommendations for other flood groups, along with identifying any changes that policy makers needed to make.
To access the full report please click the PDF icon at the bottom of the page.
Flooding is reported to be the most severe natural hazard threatening the UK, with one in six properties (five million) said to be at risk. The scale of this threat is apparent in the cost of the floods of Summer 2007, which affected large parts of the country. They were estimated to have cost the country £3.2 billion, with average annual flood damages costing anywhere between £500 million and £1 billion.
In the past, the expectation of the public was to not be involved in flood risk management schemes, their planning, implementation or management but, to simply be aware of their local flood risk. These responsibilities were undertaken by regional committees and supervising professionals. Recently, this has shifted, the public are expected to both be aware and to also participate in the development of flood risk management schemes.
This expectation has prompted the formation of Flood Action Groups, where members of the local community, local organisations and relevant authorities, such as the Environment Agency, work together to implement and improve flood risk management schemes in their area. Geaves and Penning-Roswell (2015) write that the emergence of these groups is far more apparent following a large-scale flood event rather than a small event. Small events typically prompt locals to put pressure on local authorities to improve flood management rather than establish a group which has the capacity to do it themselves.
Recommendations for Flood Groups
- Depending on group characteristics, look to link up with Parish/Town Councils and local businesses which can help with initial start-up costs.
- To work alongside and in conjunction with agencies, councils and other residents. Have an approach that is polite and constructive but one that is assertive.
- To consider whether the Flood Group’s current structure is the best fit. If a group is working in the same catchment or along the same watercourse as another group, consider contacting the other groups and establishing a forum style group.
- Try and engage younger generations in the Flood Group to ensure the group’s longevity. Social events and working parties are a great way to do this.
- Form links with universities where possible as students can help with research and data collection, which can form the basis of funding/flood alleviation proposals. Typically, this will be cost free as students need projects to complete BSc’s/MSc’s.
- To appoint a strong, passionate leader with a clear direction for the group. Reassess leadership if the current leadership is not as effective as it should be.
- To utilise the human resources available to a group. Having a group with some highly skilled members or influential land owners can add influence to the group and see them be taken more seriously which, in turn, will aid their effectiveness.
- Try to work with developers rather than against them. Get modification proposals in early and encourage as many local residents as possible to do the same.
- To understand the area’s flood risk, how it happens and when it happens. This can help the group’s aims, identify areas that need addressing and work out actions to alleviate such threats.
Recommendations for Policy Makers
- The Environment Agency need to address the way in which they communicate with groups and ensure consistency, as highlighted by participants’ concerns.
- The Environment Agency should have a greater acknowledgement of local knowledge as it can often save people time and money.
- When employing resilience officers to an area, the Environment Agency should encourage considering local knowledge and even consider employing people with local knowledge prior to their appointment. This would mean a more informed resilience officer, who may be known already locally and could save on initial training costs.
- There should be a simplification of funding/grant applications but most importantly, better availability of information on where to gain funding assistance in gaining it.
- There is a call from participants for a decentralisation of emergency flood equipment stores as the current provision doesn’t cater for everyone.
- Better availability and quality of information on flood related events, expos, talks etc. Highlight the major players, in terms of flooding, who are present in an area. This would help raise awareness in an area and promote engagement. Areas targeted for better information could be focused on where Flood Groups are present, who could help with the distribution of information.
- There should be more scrutiny of insurance companies. There are cases of where they have tried to take advantage and profit from flood victims and those at risk of flooding.
- Although unlikely, consider the impact of continuing to develop floodplains. Housing targets push for continued building but maybe these developments could happen outside of river basins.
Measuring the Effectiveness of Flood Groups in England: