ADA calls for a focus on modernising existing flood defence assets and structures for a resilient and sustainable future

ADA calls for a focus on modernising existing flood defence assets and structures for a resilient and sustainable future

Flood and Coastal Erosion Risk Management (FCERM) Policy Statement response

Following today’s statement from George Eustice MP, secretary of state for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, on the updated Flood and Coastal Erosion Risk Management (FCERM) strategy, ADA has welcomed the update which highlights the need for a renewed focus on investment in wide-scale refurbishment and modernising of existing assets, and systems to manage the flow of water alongside building new projects.

The government has pledged to invest £5.2 billion on flood and coastal risk management over the term of this parliament, as it prepares to set a new direction for managing flood risk in England.

“This new FCERM policy statement and national FCERM strategy, along with the commitment of £5.2 billion over the next six years is ambitious and welcomed,” says Innes Thomson, the chief executive of ADA (Association of Drainage Authorities), the membership organisation for drainage, water level and flood risk management authorities.

“In the aftermath of a very costly winter season of flooding, now is the time to be investing a large proportion of that pledged money in much needed wide-scale refurbishment work, to get all our rivers and watercourses, and associated pumps, drains, sluices, embankments and other assets back to an excellent standard,” he adds.

While some money has already been allocated to the Environment Agency for the specific refurbishment of its assets, ADA says it is vital that all risk management authorities, including internal drainage boards (IDBs) and local authorities, receive Government support now to ensure that all flood defence assets are brought up to the same standard. In the current economic climate, it will take time to build the other sources of funding to work alongside Government support.

“There is public sentiment that supports the call for more money being spent on everyday management of our river catchments, and to do that most efficiently, we need all risk management authorities working in partnership together to bring all flood defence assets and systems up to modern, sustainable standards,” says Mr Thomson.

The updated FCERM Strategy has three fundamental strands: climate resilient places, resilience of growth and infrastructure to climate change, and building a nation of climate champions.

“Britain has purposefully adopted a reactive approach to dealing with flood events. It is acknowledged that by 2050 we could be seeing the kinds of events witnessed over last winter, happening every year. And maybe add a few droughts on top as temperatures increase,” explains Mr Thomson.

“The costs per extreme event are becoming crippling, alongside the considerable, long-term anguish for those affected. With the knock-on effects of a loss of confidence in investing in an area that has experienced flooding events, now is the right time to proactively take action to be more resilient in the face of inevitable effects of our changing climate.”

Mr Thomson continues, “Climate change adaptation will not mean simply building our flood defences higher and higher. The key word will be resilience in our assets and our ability as a nation to absorb the short-lived anger of natural extremes and learning to prepare for and manage those extremes, for example with managed inundations in areas able to cope with it.

“It is very challenging that we are today looking at potential water shortages when, just several months ago, we had so much of it. And that is where another chunk of that £5.2 billion could be wisely spent, making the linkages between flood risk and water resource management to the mutual benefit of both.” he adds.

Mr Thomson concludes, “Where best to start, than by ensuring that the infrastructure we already have is in top condition, climate ready, well maintained and well managed and it is encouraging to see that Government recognises that.”


Notes to Editors

ADA is the membership organisation for those involved in drainage, water level and flood risk management. Its members include Internal Drainage Boards (IDBs), the Environment Agency, Regional Flood Defence Committees, Local Authorities, Natural Resources Wales, the Northern Ireland Rivers Agency, Consultants, Contractors and Suppliers.

ADA is involved in a wide range of work for and on behalf of its members helping to exchange ideas towards solving common problems and finding new, better ways of working. ADA responds to consultations from the Government, either on behalf of members or assisting with individual member responses. It represents all interests nationally and locally in relation to drainage, water level and flood risk management, for example, in relation to legislation and public inquiries. ADA acts together with other organisations to pursue the Association’s objectives, including linking to Europe through ADA’s membership of EUWMA, the European Union of Water Management Associations.

ADA obtains and shares information on matters of importance and interest to members, and provides advice on technical and administrative problems. ADA is supported by a volunteer network of branches which bring together members for meetings at a regional level. ADA organises exhibitions and meetings for the benefit of members, maintains a website at and publishes the quarterly ADA Gazette.

ADA is a limited company with offices based at Stoneleigh Park in Warwickshire. ADA welcomes enquiries from the press and can be contacted during normal weekday office hours on 02476 992889 or by e-mail at

For press enquiries please contact:
Eur Ing J Innes Thomson BSc CEng FICE
Chief Executive
Association of Drainage Authorities
Rural Innovation Centre, Avenue H, Stoneleigh Park, Warwickshire CV8 2LG
Office: 02476 992889

Ian Moodie MSci
Technical Manager
Association of Drainage Authorities
Rural Innovation Centre, Avenue H, Stoneleigh Park, Warwickshire, CV8 2LG
Office Tel: 02476 992 889

Ryan Dixon
Publications & Communications Officer
Association of Drainage Authorities
Rural Innovation Centre, Avenue H, Stoneleigh Park, Warwickshire, CV8 2LG
Office Tel: 02476 992 889

For any other press enquiries please contact Stuart Booker, Kendalls PR on 07841 655379 or Issued on behalf of ADA by Kendalls PR