The UK is in urgent need of a national flood risk management strategy and devastating floods, such as those experienced in the north of England this winter, should not come as a surprise to the government.
These are the conclusions of a new policy paper published by the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment and the ESRC Centre for Climate Change Economics and Policy at the London School of Economics and Political Science.
Ignoring the ICCC
The paper, by Dr Swenja Surminski, has been submitted to the inquiry on the winter floods 2015-16 by the House of Commons Select Committee on Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.
Dr Surminski’s written evidence points out that the government ignored calls last year from the independent Committee on Climate Change to create a national flood risk strategy on the grounds that it ‘would not be appropriate at this time’.
The evidence states, ‘The flooding that has occurred this winter now shows that decision was wrong, and that the government urgently needs to produce a national flood risk management strategy’.
The UK has experienced unprecedented rainfall in recent years and an increasing number of homes are at risk from flooding as a result of climate change.
The evidence notes, ‘According to the Met Office, six of the UK’s seven wettest years on record, and its eight warmest years, have occurred from 2000 onwards. The UK experienced its wettest and second wettest winters on record in 2013-14 and 2015-16, respectively. The heavy winter rainfall over the past few years may have been unprecedented, but it should not have been unexpected.’
Coastal and surface flooding
Dr Surminski’s evidence calls on the government’s National Flood Resilience Review, launched in December 2015, to consider the impact of coastal flooding and surface flooding, as well as river flooding.