Bricks and Water Scoping Session

The Westminster Sustainable Business Forum recently held the scoping session for a fourth Bricks and Water inquiry, focussing on coastal flooding and erosion.

Three previous Bricks and Water policy inquiries have explored various issues related to water and housebuilding in England, including governance, water resources, water efficiency, sustainable drainage, and flooding.

Baroness McIntosh of Pickering chaired the parliamentary session, with Julia Foley, Environment Agency director for Flood and Coastal Risk Management Strategy and Adaptation, providing opening remarks on the EA’s strategic overview of coastal erosion and flooding in England.

Participants discussed an array of topics, including updating planning policy to reflect the need for climate change adaptation, extending insurance coverage in coastal communities, and accelerating the uptake of Property Flood Resilience (PFR).

With the pressures produced by COVID-19 and inflation, the Government’s current investment in flood defences appears insufficient and received scrutiny. Difficulty securing private investment and out-of-date evidence and data were cited as causes of inconsistency and poor investment decisions.

At a time when budgets are already stretched, the expense of maintaining coastal flood defences is often particularly challenging for local authorities. Some local authorities are better resourced to deal with coastal erosion than others, leading to a postcode lottery.

The importance of community engagement was also noted by participants, with a shift in approach from prevention to adaptation required in vulnerable communities, including the use of non-defence interventions. Communities should feel like they are a partner in decision-making, rather than feeling that decisions are being made on their behalf.

Policy Connect is seeking sponsorship to fund its fourth Bricks and Water inquiry, which will focus on the themes outlined in this article.

Previous sponsors of the Bricks and Water series have included Anglican Water, Yorkshire Water, Flood Re, Durham University, Imperial College London, and the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust.

If you are interested in finding out more about the inquiry and benefits of sponsorship, please contact Rob Allen – robert.allen [at] (robert[dot]allen[at]policyconnect[dot]org[dot]uk).