The report was commissioned by the Adaptation Sub Committee of the government’s Committee on Climate Change for its second progress report on the National Adaptation Programme. The report reviewed a sample of major recent flood defence schemes to understand how they have contributed towards the long-term management of residual flood risk in the context of climate change.
The report found most of the flood alleviation schemes it reviewed are taking households from very significant risk to low or moderate risk. It also found most of the designs for the schemes incorporate an increase in risk due to climate change.
However, the report notes that coastal authorities can find it difficult to deliver affordable schemes with long term benefits and are therefore choosing to deliver a number schemes that will be more expensive in the long term. The model used focuses on on the financial case encouraging a short-term outlook that may affect the longer term resilience of flood risk management schemes.
The report also recommended steps be taken to increase the number of schemes identifying clear adaptive pathways and trigger points as part of a managed adaptive approach to climate change. In particular, it recommended appraisal guidance be improved building on previous research on adaptation pathways and trigger points.
The report said appraisal guidance could be revised to allow a wider range options to be taken forward, and to increase the emphasis on environmental and social benefits.
The report found that 19 of the schemes incorporated some element working with natural processes (WWNP), including NFM, beach re-nourishment or habitat creation. However, only six focused on using natural processes to manage flood risk. The report therefore recommended that the findings from the current Defra WWNP research programme be widely publicised to encourage greater take up.