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Vulnerability of the UK to flooding

By October 12, 2015Flood Protection News

The number of UK flood barriers is increasing as more towns and cities find they are at risk of a higher incidence – or are facing their first occurrences – of flooding.

The UK is now the seventh most vulnerable nation in the world to flooding and the likelihood of the need to evacuate the home is rising year on year.

The main reasons for this are a combination of properties which are built close to each other, the use of floodplains for new development and the concreting over of green areas such as gardens.

Close knit communities

With a rising population there is always a demand for new housing in the UK. Space is at a premium more than ever and the solution is often to use a small amount of available land and to design it so it can accommodate as much housing as possible.

Whilst this may mean more people can find their dream home, it’s an instant strain on the underlying ground as well as residents being exposed to the meteorological systems common to the UK. Drainage systems in every area have a capacity and when new properties are added, the waste water adds to the use. Flash flooding can then easily occur when there’s a heavy downpour and the run-off water enters the drains but because they are possibly already heading to overload, the result is that the water rises up onto the streets and land.

Use of floodplains

Because the UK is a small island with an expanding population, developers are now looking to use floodplains to build housing on and this is putting a strain on the natural geographic and geological structure of the area.

Developers are now required to ensure that flood resilience processes are put in place and that land drainage is adequate. This is part of the initial planning permission application as a flooding risk assessment must be completed. Whilst this helps, storms and unusual weather patterns still put these areas at a high likelihood of flooding.

Covering the planet with concrete

concreteThe development of housing, the turning of gardens into driveways and the covering of green areas such as lawns to create easy to care for ground has meant that natural drainage is becoming more of a challenge. The water needs to travel underground when it rains and if there’s nowhere for it to go as the soil is covered over then it will sit on the surface and gather. The result can be groundwater flooding and is becoming more common in the UK year on year.

With studies showing that the UK is one of the areas of the planet most vulnerable to extratropical cyclones, it’s vital that everyone works together to provide flood protection measures. Local authorities are rolling out schemes to protect and support existing areas where help is needed and homeowners are being called on to look to have an evacuation plan in place as well as their own flood barriers which can be deployed in an emergency situation.

With predictions that global flooding could triple by 2030, the UK is now looking to safeguard areas both coastal and inland. The combination of socioeconomic development and climate change mean that it’s an important issue for all, but with the right information and emphasising forward planning, everyone can prioritise risk reduction and implement climate adaptation projects for the generations to come.