25 June 2008
Any long-term approach to flood risk management must include the vital role played by the natural environment, says Natural England today (Wednesday 25 June) in response to Sir Michael Pitt’s review into last year’s summer floods.
In particular, Natural England warmly welcomes Sir Michael Pitt's review recommendation that Natural England works with Defra and the Environment Agency with partners to establish a programme through Catchment Flood Management Plans and Shoreline Management Plans to achieve greater working with natural processes (Recommendation 27).
By increasing the natural capacity of our urban and rural environments to absorb and hold excess water, we can help to slow run-off and dramatically decrease the risk of flooding. Thriving wetlands, restored peat bogs and free-flowing rivers are recommended by Natural England to reduce the harmful effects of flooding. This requires an integrated, landscape-scale approach from the uplands right the way through to the coast.
Sir Martin Doughty, Chair of Natural England, said: “Natural flood defences could be the key to long-term flood prevention. Well-managed landscapes not only play a crucial role in our need to cope with the increased probability of extreme rainfall, but they have huge potential benefits for biodiversity, pollution reduction and carbon storage."
Natural England supports the recommendation that the Government commits to a strategic long-term approach to its investment in flood risk management planning up to 25 years ahead. Natural England would also like to see green infrastructure as central to any new developments or as part of regeneration projects as parks and green spaces within built up areas as these can help to reduce flooding.
“'Flood friendly’ land management is not a replacement for, but a necessary complement to existing flood defence. Traditional flood defences of concrete and earth embankments may no longer be adequate or sustainable in the long-term,” concluded Sir Martin.
Notes for editors
Natural England works for people, places and nature to conserve and enhance biodiversity, landscapes and wildlife in rural, urban, coastal and marine areas. We conserve and enhance the natural environment for its intrinsic value, the wellbeing and enjoyment of people, and the economic prosperity it brings www.naturalengland.org.uk
For further information contact the Natural England press office on 0845 603 9953, firstname.lastname@example.org, out of hours 07970 098005.