Natural Flood Management in England
Since 1998, England has seen six of the ten wettest years on record with the winter of 2013/14 being the wettest winter for 250 years when over 13,000 properties were flooded. The Climate Change Committee has forecast that in a 2oC warming scenario, there will be a 20% increase in heavy rainfall events by 2100 and Expected Annual Damages (EAD) from flooding could rise by up to 50% by the 2080s. To respond, natural flood management (NFM) interventions, such as reconnecting rivers to floodplains, woodland creation and urban green infrastructure, will be required alongside traditional infrastructure to help mitigate the effects of a changing climate.
Alongside addressing flood risk, natural flood management interventions also offers a host of other co-benefits for society. For example, wetland creation provides habitats for numerous bird, invertebrate and plant species, and woodland creation increases carbon sequestration. Urban green infrastructure focussed on flood alleviation can also provide increased public access to green space and can be a cost-effective means for meeting the Sustainable Development Goals in cities.
Despite growing interest in natural flood management, these projects currently attract a fraction of the total public funding available for flood risk management projects in England. With increased pressure on available public finances for flood risk reduction, the role of private finance in delivering NFM at scale is therefore of paramount importance if we are to adapt to climate change and reduce the risk of damages to people, property and infrastructure.
Natural Flood Management Strategic Working Group
As part of a work package commissioned by Defra, the Green Finance Institute is bringing together a cross-sector Strategic Working Group to:
- Collaboratively identify barriers to private finance being deployed into natural flood management outcomes at scale
- Co-design actionable solutions that will unlock those barriers, leading to the mainstreaming of NFM and to a systemic shift in how NFM is delivered in England.
Dr Bev Adams, Marsh Insurance Group
Head of Climate and ESG at Marsh Advisory and Director of CLIFF – the Coastal Loss Innovative Funding and Financing Initiative. A climate resilience specialist and part of the team that set up Flood Re. Dr Adams has also previously worked at the World Bank as a Specialist Advisor for the National Cyclone Risk Management Project (NCRMP).
Keith Ashcroft, Lake District Foundation
Chair of the Lake District Foundation, Keith was previously the Environment Agency’s Area Director for Cumbria and Lancashire. Keith has experience of extensive delivery of natural flood management and in his role at the EA, he sponsored a £600 million flood risk investment programme and oversaw planning, response and recovery from major flood events in North West England. A former Chair of the Cumbria Local Resilience Forum, Keith was also sponsor of the EU funded Natural Course programme which facilitated the Wyre Catchment Natural Flood Management Project.
Financing Natural Flood Management Working Group Members
Dr Nick Chappell – Reader in Hydrological Processes, University of Lancaster
Sam Evans – Head of Natural Environment, Greater Manchester Combined Authority