A bolder, braver and more innovative investment programme is needed if Britain is to deal with flood risk and manage water effectively.
As parts of the country remain under floodwater and with many warnings and alerts still in place, industry leaders told the conference of ADA, the representative body for drainage, water level and food-risk management authorities, that closer Government engagement and building stronger partnerships in flood and water management were essential.
They called for a ‘fundamental shift’ in the Government’s approach, following criticism the devastation in some areas such as South Yorkshire had been brought about due to a lack of management and maintenance on key stretches of river, such as the Lower Don.
ADA chairman Robert Caudwell said: “It is not just about money, but also how it is spent.
“Crucially, is it also about greater partnerships, both with government, but all risk management authorities and other stakeholders such as the NFU.”
NFU vice-president Stuart Roberts added: “There is a need for more money to be invested in water, but we also need to be bolder, more innovative and braver with the investments. We need to think big, water is such an important asset, particularly in Britain. We need to be embracing our engineering skills.”
Mr Roberts referenced the need to look at innovative solutions, for example in helping move water around efficiently and effectively.
This year has seen droughts in some parts of the country, yet millions of gallons of water going back out to sea in other areas, in reasonably close proximity, the London conference heard.
Mr Caudwell added: “While there has been an understandable focus on the current flooding situation around the country, it is clear partnership approaches are crucial.
"During the election campaign, we also need to understand how each of the political parties plan to support effective and sustainable flood and water level management in the future.”
It came as the Government announced it would extend its Farming Recovery Fund to support farmers badly affected by the recent flooding across Yorkshire and the Midlands.
Through this scheme, farmers and land managers who have suffered uninsurable damage to their property will be able to apply for grants of between £500 and £25,000 to cover repair costs.
Mr Roberts added: “The decision to extend the Farming Recovery Fund will be welcome news to the many farmers affected by the devastating floods.
“As the NFU continues to work with farming charities to help those affected as best we can, we need to see a future government and its agencies take a much more bold and ambitious long-term approach to flood protection and integrated water management which can protect and benefit communities, farmland and businesses.”
Meanwhile, Environment Agency teams, with back up from the Armed Forces, have been working to shore up defences, with more rain being forecast.