Leaders have rallied behind plans for a multi-million-pound National Flood Resilience Centre in the Humber region.
Ark, a project led by the University of Hull and Humberside Fire & Rescue Service, would be the first centre of its kind, anywhere in the world.
Located in North Lincolnshire, Ark would provide the emergency services and responders with a controlled environment for simulated training in both urban and rural flood events, including a full-scale 120-metre-long street and a water rapids course.
The facility would also be a base for world-leading research and innovation, focused on enhancing business, societal and community resilience to flooding; vitally needed as the world faces up to a climate change induced doubling of flood risk by 2050.
A joint bid has been submitted for Ark by the University of Hull and Humberside Fire & Rescue Service, backed by North Lincolnshire Council, and discussions have been held at the highest levels in Government to support the new centre.
Now, with the 2020 Budget looming, efforts have been intensified to turn overwhelming warm support into confirmation that the up-front capital funding required will be made available.
Independent analysis has shown the financial benefits to the nation would exceed the cost of Ark by many times, enhancing response and recovery, and broader resiliency to flood events in the future.
Professor Dan Parsons, Director of the Energy and Environment Institute at the University of Hull, said: “The impacts of climate change are being seen right now.
“The devastating impact of storms Ciara and Dennis over recent weeks highlight the need for greater understanding, and more effective responses and recovery to severe flood events.
“Ark will prove to be a game-changer in how we tackle and recover from these events, which are only going to get worse as we suffer the consequences of climate change.
“It is about becoming more resilient to flooding as a society. We need to learn to get wet better and Ark will help us do that.”
If successful, Ark would underline the University of Hull’s position as a leader in research tackling the impacts of climate change, and would place the UK at the forefront of global efforts to tackle the devastating effects of flooding on communities.
The Humber region is one of the most at risk of flooding of anywhere in the UK, with major flood events in the recent past. The University of Hull’s research into the Hull floods of 2007 was incorporated into the Pitt Review, which has set UK flood policy over the past decade.
Steve Topham, Director of Service Support at Humberside Fire and Rescue Service, said: “We know from experience just how essential it is to provide an effective emergency response in the event of flooding.
“The Ark will give fire and rescue services across the country, together with all the other responding agencies, a facility where we can prepare in a much more realistic way, as well as having access to a wealth of research and innovation power.”
[Phil Winter – University of Hull]