Thursday, November 26, 2020

‘Government must deliver change on flooding’

February 28, 2020 by  
Filed under News & Business

Important changes are needed to protect the country’s homes and businesses from extreme weather events and rising sea levels, says a water management expert.

Proactive steps must be taken to cope with an increasing number of flooding incidents, which are becoming a yearly occurrence, says Simeon Disley, partner at Roythornes Solicitors and head of the firm’s water and flood management team.

“To have your home or farm flooded can be soul destroying and financially disastrous,” he says. “Recent events together with the predictions for climate change suggest we can expect more extreme weather and rising sea levels to result in flooding.”

The Environment Agency should be tasked with focusing its experience and skills on the protection of towns and cities, argues Mr Disley. Responsibility for rural areas should be passed to further empowered internal drainage boards and other local bodies, he adds.

Those local bodies should be allowed the resources needed to protect those areas in partnership with landowners and farmers, says Mr Disley. Drainage rates should apply to all rural land and drainage boards should be able to increase their rates to cover the cost of meeting future challenges.

“Common sense must prevail. Rivers and drains should be dredged and maintained to enable them to cope with the volume of water in extreme conditions and sea defences should be improved against the predicted rise in sea levels.”

Environmental protection regulations should also be reviewed and reassessed to strike the right balance between protecting the environment and those who live in it, says Mr Disley. Otherwise more people and businesses will be affected by flooding.

Flood water has no respect for farm boundaries and those who share a risk in an area should come together to present a combined plan and case for their protection – and contribute to its cost, suggests Mr Disley.

Roythornes recently acted for 14 landowners and four farming tenants who came together to form a partnership with the Witham Fourth District Internal Drainage Board to significantly improve a 5.8km section of the sea bank around the Lincolnshire Wash.

Great efficiencies can be achieved by improving flood defences through partnerships between landowners and internal drainage boards. The value for each pound spent can be more than doubled when compared to the standard public procurement methods.

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