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London Lecture: Rain rain go away … are we ready for our future flood risk?

08 February 2017
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The Geological Society, Burlington House, London
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There is a long history of devastating coastal and river flooding in England. In August 1952 an exceptional cloudburst led to the deaths of 34 people in Lynmouth and less than six months later 307 people were killed during a tidal surge on the east coast of England.

Our long coastline and geographical exposure to moisture laden Atlantic storms makes us vulnerable to nature's flood threat. But long periods of residential and industrial development in our floodplains and coastal lowlands has converted the threat into one of the top five major risks that the country needs to prepare for according to the Government's National Risk Register.

Today, over 5 million homes and businesses in England are at risk of flooding. Whilst investment in flood defences has been raised in recent years and our incident management preparations are increasingly effective, the weather is changing and the flood threat is increasing.

We will look back over the last decade to consider what we have learnt from the severe floods of summer 2007 and 2012, and winters of 2009, 2013/14 and 2015/16. The shifts in our nation's approach to managing our varied coastal and inland flood risks will be considered and we will look forward to assess what all of us - whether that is Government, business, utilities, emergency services, communities and individuals - can do to help the nation become more flood resilient.


Craig Woolhouse, Senior Manager in the Environment Agency

Craig is a senior manager in the Environment Agency, who are the government's lead advisor and operating authority for flood risk in England. Over the last eight years he has led development of the Environment Agency’s flood forecasting, warning and incident response arrangements.

He also has local operational experience of working on flooding issues in Yorkshire, the Thames Valley, Somerset and east coast of England. He is a member of the Institution of Civil Engineers’ expert panel on water issues.   

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