FCERM Budget, new ways of thinking?
This, more forward-thinking approach calls for current defences to be maintained and strengthened to protect vulnerable areas, but also the need for a broader range of actions to make communities and flood management schemes more resilient and adaptable to the increasing threat of flooding and erosion posed by climate change.
In addition to the prevention of flooding and erosion the long-term plan now highlights resilience to, rather than, prevention of flooding and erosion and will be focused around 5 key objectives;
- Upgrading and expanding flood defences and infrastructure across the country – some areas will always be vulnerable to flooding and erosion. But many communities, assets and infrastructure need to be protected by flood management schemes.
- Managing the flow of water to both reduce flood risk and manage drought – adopting a catchment-based approach to water management, starting where rivers form and throughout the catchment, integrating a range of measures and partnerships to manage water.
- Harnessing the power of nature to not only reduce flood risk, but deliver benefits for the environment, nature, and communities – In addition to being more sustainable, nature-based solutions can also provide lots of other benefits.
- Better preparing communities for when flooding and erosion does occur – Adopting a more resilient approach will mean communities plan and prepare pre flood, and will also allow them to bounce back quicker post flood.
- Ensuring every area of England has a comprehensive local plan for dealing with flooding and coastal erosion – Local plans ensure that appropriate development is built in suitable locations with environmental impacts and future effects of climate change taken into consideration.
For 2021 – 2027 capital and maintenance spending for FCERM will increase from £2.6b (allocated for 2015-2021) to £5.2b. This will enable an additional 2000 flood defences to be constructed, providing increased better flood defence for an extra 336,000 properties.
A national flood resilience programme will also be included and £200m of funding will be allocated to 25 areas for practical, innovative and adaptable projects which increase resilience to flooding. The schemes will test and demonstrate how SuDS, water storage and more nature-based solutions not only provide flood mitigation but additional benefits too. £170m is to be made available to speed up progress on shovel ready flood management projects
There are also proposals for changes to Flood Re, the joint initiative between the Government and insurers. These changes include an additional payment which could be paid on top of flood insurance claims above and beyond the original damage, meaning properties could be built back more resiliently when flood repairs are being undertaken. Another proposal is to offer discounted premiums for properties where PFR measures have been fitted. Proposals are subject to consultation but are aimed at accelerating/mainstreaming the uptake PFR to make places more flood resilient and in turn help to facilitate risk reflective flood insurance by the time Flood Re ends in 2039.
The 2021 – 2027 FCERM strategy is somewhat of a watershed/acceptance and a shift away from only defending and protecting. We can’t keep water out indefinitely, and the greater use of terms like adaptation and resilience used within the strategy clearly shows that the approach to managing flooding has shifted.