Back to top

Environment Agency Chair: We need strong flood defences

Posted: 06/06/23

Environment Agency Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs and Rebecca Pow MP Press Release: 6.6.2023

Environment Agency Chair Alan Lovell and Floods Minister Rebecca Pow stress importance of managing flood risks in a changing climate.

Environment Agency Chair Alan Lovell will today (6 June) stress the importance of building and maintaining strong defences to reduce the risk of flooding in a speech to leaders in flood risk management.

He will tell the Telford-based industry-leading trade show Flood & Coast Conference and Exhibition 2023 that nature-based solutions must also play a role in managing flooding and climate change.

Flood & Coast takes place from 6-8 June. Produced by trade body CIWEM and hosted in partnership with the EA, the conference brings together key stakeholders including local authorities, infrastructure owners, consultancies, contractors, businesses, community groups and universities.

Last year’s event saw the EA launch the FCERM Strategy Roadmap, setting out the practical actions the environmental regulator and its partners will take by 2026/27 to tackle the growing threat of flooding from rivers, the sea and surface water, as well as coastal erosion. The Roadmap also sets out how we will deliver a host of wider benefits, including local nature recovery, carbon reduction and more integrated water management to help with both flood and drought resilience.

Floods Minister Rebecca Pow and Alan Lovell will give keynote speeches on this year’s event’s first day, highlighting the progress made towards our objectives, as well as our investments in the Roadmap.

John Curtin, the EA’s CEO; David Hallam, Defra’s director of flood and water; Caroline Douglass, the EA’s executive director of FCRM; and Julie Foley, the EA’s director of flood risk strategy and national adaptation, will all also appear at the show. They will discuss how to maximise the benefits of the government’s record £5.2 billion capital investment programme and unpack how updating flood and coastal risk models enables us to adapt to a changing climate.

In addition, the show will host the EA’s Flood and Coast Excellence Awards, which aim to celebrate leaders from across the FCRM sector. This year’s awards see categories including: A nation ready to respond and adapt to flooding and coastal change; Climate Resilient Places; Climate Resilient Infrastructure; Innovation Excellence; and an early career award. Winners will be announced on 8 June.

EA Chair Alan Lovell said: “I want to recognise the significant efforts that Environment Agency teams and their partners have made to protect better more than 374,000 properties from flooding since 2015. In the face of a changing climate, we must embrace a broad range of resilience actions to reduce flood risk across the country. By working with partners, we are already making huge progress in delivering our FCERM Strategy Roadmap, including the use of innovative nature-based solutions in combination with other measures, such as traditional engineered flood and coastal defences.”

Floods Minister Rebecca Pow said: “As climate change leads to sea level rise and more extreme rainfall, the number of people affected by flooding and coastal erosion is likely to grow. That is why the Government is committed to acting now – and for the long-term – so that our country can be better protected and better prepared for the future. We are investing record amounts into flood defences, protecting homes and businesses, supporting the economy and helping to adapt to climate change.”

lan Lovell took up the post of the EA’s Chair in September 2022, succeeding Emma Howard Boyd.

Since then, the EA published an evaluation of the key achievements from the £15 million natural flood management (NFM) pilot programme in December 2022, the lessons from which are informing how we work with partners to mainstream NFM. Publishing the evaluation is an action we took as part of the Roadmap.

The EA launched the updated Thames Estuary 2100 Plan in May, setting out how it aims to protect more than 1.4 million people and £321 billion of property from both the existing risks faced from tidal flooding, as well as the growing risks that climate change will bring.

Later that month, the EA launched the ‘Be Flood Smart’ campaign in partnership with FloodRe, a joint initiative between the government and the insurance industry. The campaign encourages householders to protect their homes better against the impact of future floods with property flood resilience measures.

More widely, the EA’s new flood defences have ensured the better protection of 374,000 homes since 2015. We continue to do more, delivering a record £5.2 billion investment to protect better hundreds of thousands of properties, and the EA’s FCERM strategy will prepare us for more extreme weather and build a more resilient nation.