How new Government funding will improve flood defences in the UK

How new Government funding will improve flood defences in the UK

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During the month of December parts of the North of England and Scotland were faced unprecedented flooding and consequently unprecedented damage to homes, roads and businesses.

It was an all too familiar story for some areas such as Carlisle where flooding had caused similarly terrible damage back in 2009. It was after this life altering damage that the UK government promised to improve flood defences to ensure this sort of thing didn’t happen again.

Unfortunately, the actions after 2009 just weren’t enough to stop the onslaught of storms Desmond and Eva, with the damage in 2015 being even worse in those areas.

As a response to the damage the government have again put money forward to help local people and local councils ensure this sort of damage doesn’t occur in the near future.

By 3rd January the figure stands at £200m which will go towards building and strengthening flood defences, and matching funds raised by charities to help people who were worst effected.

But how exactly will they stop rivers bursting their banks, bridges collapsing and homes being utterly ruined? Here are the some of the most successful ways to keep the water from our front doors.

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Riverside floodwalls

While a number of homes affected during 2015 were flooded by sheer rainfall in the area, the majority of homes were damaged because of rivers overflowing and spilling out across low level land. One heavily hit area and strong example of this would be the market town of Appleby which has the River Eden running directly through the middle of the town.

This clip from Sky News shows just how much the river rose in the town, and how easily it could spill over onto the roads. The river runs just behind where the shot is taken from and runs parallel to the road, there are no flood defences, and just a small grassy bank currently separates the water from the town.

One option to massively restrict the river bursting its banks again would be to build floodwalls running along the bank in the areas in which the banking is the lowest, this could protect the houses which suffered repeated damage.

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Improving drainage

As alluded to in the previous point, while the majority of homes were affected by rivers bursting their banks, a number were flooded simply because of the sheer amount of rainfall. Storm Desmond alone dropped over 10 inches of rain on Cumbria over the course of a weekend which broke all previous records considerably.

It became clear the the drainage systems in areas like Kendal and parts of Carlisle just weren’t up to scratch and couldn’t clear the water before it rose high enough to wreck homes.

There are two ways the government money may help this, one is improving the current drainage systems and the other is finding new solutions. Clearly the current drainage isn’t good enough, so excavating new drains in streets and places for that water to be offloaded to which doesn’t add to the potentially already flooded river is key.

The Government are considering offering money to farmers to allow their fields to be used as flood relief to villages and towns if and when similar weather conditions arise in the future.

River networks

Obviously the big damage all revolved around rivers during the floods, so how can the government ensure they never rise like that again? One option is to build extra break away streams and rivers from the more central ones such as the River Eden in Cumbria to redirect the heavy flow of water away from the centre of towns.

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One of the most effective tools in excavating and laying the foundations for rivers and canals is sheet piling. This construction material is specially developed by companies like Sheet Piling UK.

Sheet piling is essentially huge ridged sheets of strong metal which is used to plant solid foundations. Two thirds of the sheeting is submerged into the ground, with a third above ground, creating stable control between land and whatever might be placed in the foundation. In this case it would be a river.

This material is not to be underestimated, and could easily handle even the heaviest flood water because it is regularly used to create docks and sea defences, so it would be a great option for this purpose.

Only time will tell as to where the governments money will be spent and whether it will be enough to save communities from suffering the kinds of flooding they have been subjected to over the last few years.

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