Engineered and natural solutions both needed to tackle urban flood risk

A new briefing note by the Parliamentary Office of Science & Technology (POST) collates current expert opinion to provide a valuable policy review on Adapting Urban Areas to Flooding.

The note stresses that “there is no single solution that can manage all flood risk”.  Instead “a portfolio of engineered and natural solutions can be implemented” to manage urban flood risk on a site-specific basis and at a range of scales across a catchment.

The solutions outlined in the briefing include catchment led approaches, reducing urban runoff through Green Infrastructure and SuDS, retrofitting SuDS into existing urban areas, and designing for exceedance.  The report also outlines opportunities for property level resistance and resilience.

“Urban drainage systems that mimic a natural landscape can reduce surface flooding and provide other benefits,” says the note.

The briefing note summarises how urban areas – where more than 80% of the UK population lives – can be better managed to adapt to flood risk from surface water, sewers and ground water.

Other key points include:

  •  Extreme rainfall events are predicted to become more frequent and severe in the future as the climate changes
  • Existing urban defences and drainage infrastructure cannot cope with increasingly extreme events, but urban areas can be adapted to reduce vulnerabilities to flooding
  • In England, management of flood risk is fragmented.  A more strategic approach may be needed to adapt to changes in climate.

POST is an office of both Houses of Parliament charged with providing independent and balanced analysis of policy issues that have a basis in science and technology. POSTnotes are based on literature reviews and interviews with a range of stakeholders, and are externally peer-reviewed.

For a full list of experts consulted and to download the POSTnote 592 visit:


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