Influencing the Legislators! 

After the wettest winter on record and the ever increasing threat climate change poses for flood risk in the UK, Trustees from Slow The Flow, and with the help of Holly Lynch, MP for Halifax, arranged a reception at The Houses of Parliament to speak to Members of Parliament from all parties and from around the UK. 

The purpose of the visit was to illustrate how utilising natural flood management (NFM) and sustainable drainage solutions (SuDS) techniques can make a significant contribution to reducing flood risk in our communities across the UK. The day was very productive, meeting more than 20 MPs and their Parliamentary Assistants who wanted to understand more about how NFM can reduce flood risk.  We had numerous conversations about NFM and the benefits of using such nature-based solutions to flooding in their own constituencies. 

Slow The Flow have developed five key messages to present to Members of Parliament and Peers to highlight the importance of NFM, SuDS, and other renewable methods of managing the environment to reduce flood risk. 

The key messages presented are;

1. More funding required for NFM. It is a cost-effective approach that provides value for money.  Currently the funding model is balanced in favour of hard engineering solutions with only a tiny proportion of funding going to Natural Flood Management.  

2. All planning developments should include SuDS to manage water at a local level.  This is already adopted and implemented in Wales but not elsewhere in the UK. 

3. Education is crucial for long-term understanding and success. NFM and SuDS should be included in the primary school curriculum.

4. Green skills and expertise are necessary for the development of NFM. These roles and professions should be prioritised if we are going to build upon the knowledge and benefits of NFM. All local authorities should have NFM officers to manage projects on a local level. 

5. NFM and SuDS have a positive impact on Combined Sewer Outfalls, and the automatic right to combined sewer connection should be removed.

Slow The Flow will continue to educate and work with legislators to ensure that NFM is front and centre of decisions around reducing flood risk in Calderdale and around the UK.  Already, Slow The Flow has had subsequent contact from MPs who want to know more about our work and how using these methods can reduce flood risk in their own constituencies.  

Many people who have never encountered flooding at all in their towns and villages are now seeing this phenomenon affecting them as the climate is changing. Wetter and warmer conditions are resulting in significant unpredictability in our weather systems, and we are seeing more severe and frequent flood events.  

Slow The Flow regularly gets calls and enquiries from these worried communities around the UK, who are looking to protect their homes and business from rising water levels and the increasing threat of flood water.  There are 5.7 million properties in England at risk of flooding. Despite the government’s ambition to create a nation more resilient to flooding, it has not defined what this means and we have no measure of resilience to gauge progress against. 

While the ongoing capital programme expects to improve protection for 200,000 properties by 2027, some 203,000 properties are currently at increased risk of flooding due to the deterioration of existing flood defences.

This is why organisations like Slow The Flow need to be innovative and proactive to hold our legislators to account to protect a vast proportion of our population from flood risk.  NFM clearly provides some of these solutions, with better value and less disruption to our environment than traditional hard-engineered solutions, in the communities in which they serve.  

The benefits are clear to see and Slow The Flow will continue to promote these innovations at the highest possible political levels to protect our communities from the pervading risk of flooding. 

Without continued and sustained pressure,  nothing changes. Slow The Flow will continue to work with our partners at The National Trust, Yorkshire Wildlife Trust, The Environment Agency, Calderdale Council, Yorkshire Water, with our Members of Parliament and with other flood affected communities around the UK. 

In this year of elections, Slow The Flow urges communities around the UK concerned about flood risk to contact their Members of Parliament, Mayoral candidates, and local councillors to press for more pro-activity and innovation and encourage them to take action and adopt our 5 point plan.