2023, the year of action on surface water flooding

It’s early 2023, and winter heatwaves are breaking temperature records across Europe. Extremes in weather are more likely with climate change and can have a significant impact on local communities, particularly when they lead to flooding or conversely, drought, as we saw in 2022. Surface water flooding in particular is often caused by thunderstorms following spells of hot, dry weather, such as that seen in London in July 2021.

The National Infrastructure Commission (NIC) report Reducing the risk of surface water flooding from late 2022 highlighted the scale of this risk. Around 325,000 properties are currently at a high risk of surface water flooding. This could increase to 620,000 properties by 2055, given the impact of climate change, urbanisation and potential increase in impermeable surfaces. Here at Binnies, our team of surface water experts, which boasts over 40 years of collective experience in surface water flood risk management, has reviewed the report and summarised the recommendations. The government is now considering the recommendations of the NIC report.

NIC recommendations to reduce surface water flooding

We recognise that surface water flooding is a complex issue and requires a holistic approach. A combination of ageing infrastructure, the pressure for new development and challenges for coordination between organisations alongside lack of targets, resources, skills, adequate modelling, forecasting and funding place our at-risk communities in a vulnerable position.

The NIC’s recommendations call for swift action at many levels, from understanding the level of flood risk to planning and investing. One of the main recommendations is to implement Schedule 3 of the Flood and Water Management Act 2010, which would require almost all developments to implement sustainable drainage systems (SuDS).

Following a separate review into the implementation of Schedule 3, the government have now agreed to implement it during 2024, subject to final decisions on scope, the process, the threshold for the developments it will apply to and a new regulatory burdens assessment. Binnies are pleased to hear this which should ensure that new drainage systems manage surface water from developments in a way that reduces flood risk and delivers wider water quality, amenity and environmental improvements for local communities. This would also reduce pressure on our ageing sewer systems and help towards alleviating other issues, including the frequency with which combined sewer overflows spill.

The report also highlights the urgent need for risk-management authorities, such as regional flood and coastal committees, internal drainage boards and OFWAT as the water industry regulator, to work collaboratively to manage the increasing risk of surface water flooding. Drainage and wastewater management plans are a significant tool the industry can use to aid collaboration and make available funding go further to benefit communities and the environment. Highways authorities will also be crucial in this collaboration. Working together will enable us to reduce flood risk while improving water quality in our local watercourses.

About Binnies

At Binnies, we create new possibilities for humanity through our innovative approach to delivery. Backed by a culture that has stayed true since the company’s founding over 100 years ago, Binnies develops intelligent water and environmental solutions using a whole-life-cycle approach to deliver functional infrastructure and lasting environmental and social legacies. We strive to elevate the quality of life for our local communities today and for generations to come.

Binnies is an RSK group company and was formerly part of Black & Veatch.

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About the RSK group (RSK)

RSK is a leading integrated environmental, engineering and technical services group made up of more than 175 businesses. The group is headquartered in the United Kingdom and has an established presence with more than 200 offices in over 40 countries around the world.

For over 30 years, RSK has been helping organisations realise their business goals efficiently and cost-effectively, and with the most beneficial environmental and social impact. We deliver practical solutions to some of the greatest challenges of our time. As a client-focused business, our services are constantly evolving to directly respond to, or pre-empt global conditions and legislative drivers.

Visit www.rskgroup.com and connect with us on LinkedInTwitter and Facebook as we continue to forge a stronger future together.

Media contacts 

Binnies UK  

Sascha Noar Tel: +44 (0)1737 856219 | Mobile: +44 (0)7825 356554 | Email: noars@binnies.com