The associate director of UK Flood Defences has warned that more than 16,000 miles of roads could be at risk from flooding.
Roger Patey has welcomed initiatives taken by highways authorities and partner companies together with the Environment Agency, which he says will go a long way to providing a strategic plan for areas of regular flooding.
However, he says they will never completely solve the issues affecting flash flooding and the adverse weather conditions that were seen last year.
Patey said: “There’s no 100% solution but there are ways in which we can minimise the disruption and damage flooding causes to our road infrastructure and the resultant economic cost. Environment Agency research shows that each £1 invested in flood defence saves £8 in cost of repairs and clean up and that doesn’t include the economic damage. The problem is we can’t invest everywhere where there could be a problem as it would be far too costly.”
He believes a model used in Germany could be rolled out across the UK.
“In Germany the situation is different as they use the fire service as a task force to provide temporary defence for areas under threat,” adds Patey. “Defence products are held at regional centres either pre-filled and ready or flat packed and ready to move quickly to flood risk areas. Within the UK we have within our highways teams and partner companies, manpower to quickly set temporary defences. The problem is where to deploy and by how much?
“The Met Office and Environment Agency have improved their forecasting models and can now predict with more certainty areas at risk including those areas under risk from flash flooding, but how do you know where best to deploy defences without causing other flooding issues elsewhere. How do you ensure defence is set at areas where there is most risk of breach within the defences themselves?”
UK Flood Defences is working in partnership with WSP Consulting, who have developed a computer model based on satellite communication to assess areas at risk and where to deploy temporary defences including where to set in place more robust defences in areas at most risk from breach. The company provides fast, effective temporary and semi-permanent flood defences to quickly avert flooding and see this approach and temporary defence as the way to avoid large-scale disruption.