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Flood protection innovator slams “placebo” sandbags

By February 1, 2016Flood Protection News

The award-winning flood protection developer – Fluvial Innovations – has condemned sandbags as having a “placebo effect”, failing to protect homes and businesses devastated by recent floods, where the costs of damage caused by storms Desmond, Eva and Frank are expected to reach more than £1.3bn.


Fluvial Innovations founder Simon Phelps, who created the award-winning FloodBlock flood barriers has called for local authorities to look for more effective solutions to deal with flooding across towns and cities in the UK.


Simon said: “We’ve seen widespread use of sandbags again this year, which have been deployed in flood-hit areas, despite the availability of more viable solutions. These measures seem to exhibit more of a placebo effect than any real form of flood protection.


“With yet more flood devastation in the past few weeks, it’s crucial we use defences that actually work, to protect residents and businesses from losing everything.”


In 2007, Sir Michael Pitt was asked to compile a report on flooding defences within the UK, which gave no evidence that sandbags were effective and found that they were of ‘limited use’ and should be ‘phased out’ in conjunction with a raft of other measures designed to protect the public. The report, which made more than 92 proposals, will form the basis of a new government review of its flood protection policy in 2016.


Simon explained: “Sandbags are ineffective and comparatively expensive to alternatives, considering that they can only be used once. Empty sand bag sacks have to be bought and filled, which costs both manpower and time – two resources that are in short supply in a flooded area.


“Even when they are in position, sandbags are prone to excessive leakage, and when used, bags rot and decay, so they are unusable for future floods.”


The FloodBlock system is a mobile, re-usable flood barrier that can be quickly deployed to effectively block flood water. More than 10 miles of our various flood systems are currently in operation across the country.