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Taking the lead on managing flood risk

3 December 2012

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SUFFOLK’s first ever comprehensive flood risk management plan is set to be considered by county councillors next week.

The strategy, which primarily focuses on flash flooding caused by heavy and sustained rainfall, aims to reduce the risk of flooding and the misery and economic damage that it can cause.

It sets out what organisations responsible for managing the risk of flooding will do to limit its impact and details how members of the public and business owners can take action to protect their properties.

It follows months of public consultation and consideration by all of the county’s district and borough councils, Natural England and the Environment Agency.

It is estimated that one in six properties in Suffolk is at risk of flooding from one or more sources. This includes around 11,750 properties at risk of surface water flooding and 2,900 at risk of river flooding.

The strategy sets out what the responsible organisations will do to manage the risk. Actions include:

  • Improving understanding of, and recording, sites where surface water flood risks exist.
  • Investigating the causes of flooding to understand how to prevent it in future.
  • Developing investment plans and coordinating funding bids to help reduce flood risk.
  • Supporting property and land owners who want to protect themselves from flooding.
  • Ensuring new developments do not increase the risk of flooding.
  • Making rivers and streams more natural by removing unnecessary structures.
  • Providing advice and timely information.

Land, home and business owners can take steps to help manage the risk of flooding by:

  • Checking waterways near their properties are not obstructed, and reporting any that are.
  • Reporting flooding problems to the authorities as early as possible.
  • Ensuring there are sufficient permeable surfaces around their properties, such as grassy areas, so that water doesn’t collect above ground.
  • Not putting cement, fats, oils and paints down drains which clogs up pipes and limits their capacity.
  • Signing up for flood warnings and making safety plans if they live or work in more vulnerable areas.
  • Ringing 999 if flooding poses a danger to life.

Councillor Guy McGregor, Suffolk County Council’s cabinet member responsible for roads, planning and transport, said:

“The risk of flooding from rivers or the sea is generally more predictable and the Environment Agency is set up to manage this. Until now however, less has been known about localised flash flooding caused by heavy downpours. This strategy has been created to manage this increasingly common risk.

“Our biggest challenge is that there is never going to be enough public money available to protect everyone from flooding and the increasing risk caused by climate change.

“This means we have to find new ways of doing things - which includes working with residents and business owners to raise awareness of what can be done to protect themselves and their properties.”

Whilst Suffolk County Council is the lead local flood authority, delivery of the strategy is the collective responsibility of a number of public and private bodies. The county council has an important role to play in developing the strategy, ensuring that all organisations involved are aware of their responsibilities, monitoring progress and communicating with the public