Research shows natural flood defence schemes are no ‘silver bullet’ to stop flooding
11 April 2017
It is widely known that large expanses of the UK are in desperate need of new effective forms of flood defences as traditional methods are struggling to cope with increased land development and climate change.
Here at VHE, we have considerable experience nationwide in flood defence and scour protection works having recently completed further Hunstanton to Heacham sea defence works. This was a necessary project that utilized and recycled materials the tides had moved down the coast through the action of longshore drift.
VHE has taken a look into recent research around the effectiveness of natural flood defences. Natural measures, such as tree planting and creating wetlands, are said to play a valuable role in managing the risks of small scale floods from rivers. However, recent analysis has suggested it is not the ‘silver bullet’ to stopping flooding. With the lack of monitoring of existing schemes leaving the full potential of natural defences unclear.
Natural flood defence schemes range from water storage areas such as ponds and reservoirs, crop growing and planting buffer strips of hedges. And while evidence does show effectiveness in small-scale river catchments, the diversity of defences and the difference between catchments mean it is very difficult to transfer evidence of effectiveness from one location to another.
It has also been noted that in the event of large-scale extreme flooding, such as the floods caused by Storm Desmond in December 2015, most natural flood defences would be easily overwhelmed.
Experts have concluded that while natural flood management can help carefully chosen, small-scale locations, as well as bringing significant benefits to the surrounding environment, it is not the silver bullet to solving the nation’s flood problem. What is needed is a comprehensive, long-term and strategic approach to flood protection, including a combination of both natural flood management and engineered defences.
VHE are one of the UK’s leading land remediation and infrastructure contractors with experience of working to protect our infrastructure and provide flood protection across the UK. Feel free to contact us now on 01226 320150 to discuss your requirements.