EPSRC funds projects designed to improve flood protection

Three UK universities are to share £4m in EPSRC funding for projects designed to improve protection and recovery from major floods.

Over the past five days, parts of England and Wales have been affected by flooding caused by heavy rainfall and the Met Office yesterday issued a severe weather warning for areas of Wales and south-west England.

Similarly, the Environment Agency had four flood warnings and 38 flood alerts in force across England yesterday.

The projects designed to cover the management and mitigation of such flood risks will be carried out at the universities of Newcastle, Nottingham and Durham.

According to the EPSRC, researchers at Newcastle University will lead a team to look at the most critical flood scenarios caused by sequences or clusters of extreme weather events striking vulnerable systems of flood defences, urban areas, communities and businesses.

They will assess the risk of situations where a second flood may strike before coastal or river defences have been reinstated after damage or where householders and small businesses are in a vulnerable condition recovering from the first flood.

By examining such events and identifying the worst-case scenarios, the researchers hope their findings will lead to enhanced flood resilience and better allocation of resources for protection and recovery.

Another project led by Nottingham University will put people, local authorities and businesses at the centre of their research using two-way communication to co-produce new strategies for managing flood risk. 

Their goal is to manage urban flooding sustainably while enhancing urban life by adopting new technologies. Green urban spaces will be developed through new-build, retrofit and urban renewal, which could lead to major transformations in the way cities are planned, developed and managed. 

A Durham University-led research team will develop computer modelling to look at how emergency planners, the emergency services, local authorities, businesses and other key players interact in the aftermath of a flood.

The research is expected to lead to the creation of the first unified framework that integrates and evaluates organisations’ changed behaviours in the face of flood events and how these affect business continuity management and future preparedness.

The findings are expected to go towards better planning and response in the future as well as mitigating economic losses.