How do we protect our homes and businesses from the devastation of flooding?

It’s well known that flooding due to climate change is inevitable in Hull and East Riding. With the Humber 2100+ Project, part of the Environment Agency, predicting sea level rises of up to 1m. Hull and East Riding will flood, but the question is ‘how do we protect our homes and businesses from the devastation of flooding?’

Andrew Mclachlan – Chief Executive Officer, Yorkshire and Humber Drainage Board, Sean Clough- Parliamentary Researcher for Emma Hardy MP, Alan Menzies – Executive Director of Planning and Economic Regeneration, East Riding of Yorkshire Council, Alex Codd – Assistant Director Economic Development & Regeneration Hull City Council, Professor David Petley – Vice-Chancellor, University of Hull VC, James Mason – Assistant Emergency Planning Manager, East Riding of Yorkshire Council, Ben Kirby – Principal Engineer – Flood Risk Strategy, East Riding of Yorkshire Council, Emma Hardy – MP Hull West and Hessle, Paul Stockhill – Area Flood and Coastal Risk Manager. Yorkshire North and East, Environment Agency, Nicola Sworowski – Forward Planning and Housing Strategy Manager, East Riding of Yorkshire Council, Helen Todd – Humber Strategic Manager, Humber 2100+, Environment Agency, Professor Thomas Coulthard – University of Hull

That’s what was discussed at a ground-breaking roundtable chaired by Emma Hardy MP, who has been a campaigning voice in Westminster for better legislation around flood protection, held at University of Hull’s Aura Centre in Hessle last week. Experts were drawn from both Hull City Council and East Riding of Yorkshire Council, the Environment Agency, Humber Drainage Board, Town and Country Planning Association and the University of Hull, including the new Vice-Chancellor.

The effects of climate change are beginning to be felt in Hull and the East Riding, its people and its industry face changes over the long term that will require substantial responses. The purpose of the roundtable event was to better understand those changes and explore responses that will ensure a sustainable and prosperous future for the region, and to reach a view on the most effective strategies of achieving their implementation.

The flood defences which were recently improved along the Humber frontage will only guarantee protection for the next 20 years. To meet the longer term threats the Humber 2100+ project, run through the Environment Agency, has been tasked with finding the solutions needed. The meeting was particularly keen to find ways of accelerating the project as it was seen by all attendees as vital to the region’s sustainable future. 

The roundtable also discussed the need for greater understanding of the issues and possibilities for creating a flood resilient future among the public, business and developers, and what powers were needed by agencies involved in flood prevention and mitigation to ensure new developments and infrastructure were future proofed.

Emma Hardy MP commenting said: “The ‘Living with Water’ partnership created after the 2007 floods is showing the rest of the country what can be done through greater agency co-operation and increasing public awareness. But we still have work to do supercharging community engagement and – which is where I come in – getting government to make the changes necessary to allow the us to get on with the job of protecting homes and businesses.”