Scientists warned that flash flooding of the kind witnessed in London this weekend will become more frequent as the climate crisis gets worse, and the UK government, householders, and businesses must put in more effort to protect against potential harm.
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Climate Policy in the UK
A hydrologist at the University of Reading, Dr Jess Neumann, said: “Flooding from intense summer rainfall is going happen more frequently. No city, town or village is immune to flooding and we all need to take hard action right now if we are to prevent impacts from getting worse in the future.”
UK’s climate policy has concentrated on reducing greenhouse gas emissions, because it is a major concern, to decrease human impact on the climate and make sure catastrophic levels of global heating are not attained.
But the government has also been warned very often that measures are needed urgently in order to manage the impacts of extreme weather, and that the UK has been taking the necessary action on such adaptive measures.
Adapting to the impacts will need a rigorous overhaul of the UK’s infrastructure, encompassing not just water supply systems and drainage, and transport, to make sure they are not submerged because many in London were overwhelmed as a result of the weekend floods, but also supply of energy and communications networks.
There will be a need to redesign buildings and public regions renovated to include good drainage channels and storm drains, while more creative strategies could include porous pavements.
The problem in many cities including London have aggravated due to the absence of green spaces and vegetation, and the paving over of many regions without paying attention to flood risk, this problem needs to be addressed, experts warned.
Neumann said: “Planning and development need to consider flood risk from all sources – river, groundwater and flash floods – and adapt accordingly. It is not acceptable to keep paving over the land and expect the public to deal with the water when it comes into their homes.”
One of the issues is that responsibility for the protection of flood in the UK is divided among many authorities, with few central oversight.
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Roles and Responsibilities for Surface Water Flooding Risk
Associate professor of climate resilience at Reading University, Liz Stephens, said the UK still has a complex set of roles and responsibilities for shallow water flooding risk.
It is the responsibility of the lead local flood authorities to manage it, the Environment Agency is responsible for mapping it, and the Met Office is responsible for providing early warning. This makes it hard for the people to have a better knowledge of their own risks and actions to be taken.
The chief executive of Aviva General Insurance, Adam Winslow, said action is needed urgently to improve regulation concerning how and where properties are built, promote the use of resilient materials, and reflect on innovative and natural solutions to climate change.
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