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After the floods: UK look to the Netherlands for Solutions

2016-02-17 14:00:00 +0000 by Miriam Heale

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After a Winter of record breaking rainfall in the UK, both the Environment Agency, DEFRA and the UK Government are now awaiting a review of the UK's flood resilience led by Oliver Letwin MP, who will ask whether the UK have got it right or not.

After listening on Sunday to BBC Radio 4's File on Four's programme  'After the Floods - A Tale of Two Cities', Mr Letwin would be well advised to look to The Netherlands for inspiration.

The city of Nijmegen, which draws strong comparisons with York in the programme, is about to confirm a €400m (£309m) flood defence project, part of a wider €2.3bn (£1.78bn) scheme along the River Waal (the name for the Rhine where it flows into the Netherlands), which splits Nijmegen in two - very much like York, where the Ouse feeds into the smaller, more central Fosse.

The investment not only looks at improvements to flood defences and dykes, but also the creation of more space to allow the river 'room' to flow - in fact the project is called Ruimte voor de Rivier 'The Room for the River' 

DEFRA has said it is investing £2.3bn to better protect 300,000 homes with 1,500 flood defences, but also said the idea of looking at the whole catchment of a river would be a key part of its 25-year plan for flood protection.

"To date the emphasis has been on protecting downstream communities by building big flood defences, but I think we're in the situation now where you can't do that alone,"  Daniel Johns of the Committee on Climate Change, told the BBC. "That has to continue but at the same time we need to work at a catchment scale.

"And it's about rolling it out at scale, doing this in every single catchment, particularly in those places which have been affected this winter. The science suggests it's not a matter of these events happen again, but when and where."

Listen to BBC Radio 4's File on Four's programme  After the Floods - A Tale of Two Cities

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