Managing our coastal risks: A serious cause for concern?
The winter 2013/14 storms showed that our flood defences at the British coast are vulnerable and communities are at risk. Adding sea-level rise forecast for the next 50-100 years makes the situation serious: a national-scale risk. But managing that risk has several problematic characteristics. First, risk assessments are flawed, as they are inland. Secondly, reduction measures are fundamentally locally based, with little national strategy. Thirdly, major works require local contributions to supplement nationally sourced grant aid. Fourthly, insurance against flooding has a time-limited ‘window’ before risk reflective pricing is to be adopted and affordable policies for high risk areas disappear. The situation gives serious cause for concern and the results illustrate practical and policy issues that need tackling without delay.
Professor Edmund Penning-Rowsell is a geographer, receiving his PhD from the University College London. His research interests are the political economy of major hazards and how this affects decisions about investment in hazard mitigation. He has acted as consultant to numerous national and international environmental agencies, was the founder of the Flood Hazard Research Centre at Middlesex University, and was awarded the O.B.E. by the Queen in May 2006 for services to flood risk management.