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Centre of excellence designed to cut UK flood risks opens in Newcastle

Posted: 28/01/20

A new facility showing how future cities should be designed to reduce the risk of flooding in the face of climate change has launched in Newcastle. The UK’s largest testbed for sustainable drainage systems was officially opened on Friday by Universities Minister Chris Skidmore. The UKCIRIC National Green Infrastructure Facility will allow engineers to test the performance of new technologies that can slow the flow of water in the event of extreme rainfall and reduce the risk of flooding in cities.

Designed by engineers at Newcastle University and funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), part of UK Research and Innovation, the facility integrates a range of naturally engineered systems such as green roofs and rain gardens together with a full-scale swale which is fitted with a series of ‘leaky barriers’ designed to hold back floodwaters. These include a range of slotted barriers that can be modified to replicate natural conditions, alongside a wetland area.

Situated in the heart of Newcastle, the swale is fitted with a network of sensors and cameras to monitor flow, water levels, soil moisture, rainfall and other meteorological conditions. This data is then fed into Newcastle University’s Urban Observatory, the UK’s largest set of real-time open data, and will be used to inform future flood management and help policy makers and emergency services make decisions in real time if, and when, flooding occurs in the future.

Based on the Newcastle Helix site – a 24 acre ‘living laboratory’ and innovation hub – the Facility is the latest addition to Newcastle’s Blue-Green City initiative.

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