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And finally, if you would like more information about the programme or want to contact us for any other reason, please email us at

Now published! Working with natural processes to reduce flood risk

There has been much research on WWNP, but it has never been synthesised into one place, meaning it’s been hard for flood risk managers to access up-to-date information on it and to fully understand its potential benefits. To address these gaps, we’ve undertaken three projects.

These include an Evidence Directory which summarises the effectiveness of 14 different natural flood management (NFM) measures from a flood risk perspective, as well as their wider ecosystem service benefits. This directory is underpinned by a detailed literature review, 65 case study examples, 14 one-page summaries of each measure and guidance on monitoring.

We also developed maps which can be used with key partners to help think about the types of measure that may work in a catchment and where to potentially find them.

We’ve written a supporting guide, which sits alongside these products and explains the types and extent of evidence needed to help make the case for WWNP when developing business cases. It also includes guidance on WWNP and groundwater flooding.

The research gaps that need to be addressed to move this form of FCRM into the mainstream are identified in the Evidence Directory. We’re working with the catchment-scale Defra-funded NFM projects to address research gaps through long-term monitoring. We also worked with the Natural Environment Research Council to help them develop their NFM Research call which will be funding £3.4 million of research in Cumbria, the Peak District and West Thames.

We are recruiting a Principal Scientist

We are looking for a Principal Scientist to join our Programme to help provide us with the evidence, practical research and new capabilities to meet future challenges in flood and coastal risk management and enable us to benefit from new scientific advancements. You will establish national research priorities, commission and manage research projects, collaborate on research partnerships and provide in-house scientific advice to flood risk management practitioners.

To find out more and apply click on the link below for the advert on the Environment Agency recruitment portal: 

Now published! Research News issue 28

Research News is the newsletter published by the FCERM R&D programme. It includes articles on current research and development across the FCERM programme.

front cover for Research News issue 28 

Research News issue 28 (PDF, 3986k)

You can subscribe to future editions for free.

Flood and Coast, Telford International Centre, 28-30 March 2017 - Great Minds Gather for UK’s Largest Flood and Coastal Erosion Event

Flood and Coast 2017 Logo

Following some of the most dramatic flood and Coastal Erosion incidents that the UK has witnessed in recent history, an intensive 3-day Conference and Exhibition convened by the Environment Agency has been finalised.

The UK has undergone some of the most devastating damage from inland flooding and coastal erosion in the past three or four years and according to the Environment Agency’s report after Storm Angus –  the country can expect these weather events to continue. 

Clare Dinnis Deputy Director of Strategy at the Environment Agency said about the event “No one body can provide a fully rounded response to flood risk management. Local flood authorities, the Environment Agency, other risk management authorities and our partners all have a part to play. As do the communities and businesses who face the risk. We want to bring the whole flood and coast risk management community together to hear from one another, learn from each other and share perspectives. It is only by listening to those who suffer from flooding that we can truly understand the devastating impacts that we are trying to reduce.”

Where and when
Flood and Coast 2017 exhibition and conference will take place from 28-30 March at the Telford International Centre and will draw together key stakeholders from the flood and coastal erosion risk management (FCRM) community, including local authorities, civil engineers, infrastructure owners, consultancies, utility companies, contractors, businesses, community groups, flood research consultants and universities from across the UK. 

David Wilkes of Arup global flood resilience leader and exhibitor at the event in March said “There needs to be a genuine and meaningful debate about land-use, a tolerance of flooding risk, about how the buildings and public spaces link, about roads, parks, cycle ways and footpaths and other infrastructure will work in normal times and in times of flood.” 

Conference aim
Flood and Coast 2017 aims to share the latest ideas and showcase up to the minute flood defence solutions to help prevent future flooding for local authorities and stakeholders.  There will be over 150 senior Environment Agency personnel present at the event. The key areas that the event will cover include; Coastal flooding and erosion – with over 1 million properties at risk from coastal flooding by 2030, Flood Alleviation and Water Management, Emergency Planning, Infrastructure and Cities, Modelling and Forecasting, Partnerships, and People and Communities. 

The Flood and Coast Exhibition and a series of free seminars on the exhibition floor is free to attend for all, register now on The Flood and Coast Conference running alongside the exhibition is an in-depth debate about all the key flooding and coastal erosion issues and how they may be solved. The conference has around 170 speakers, the full conference programme can be found on along with prices for one day or three day tickets.

Flood and Coast 2017 is sponsored by Van Oord, VBA, CH2M - Flood Modeller Suite, Aecom, HR Wallingford, Mackley and IBS Group.

Building capacity in FCRM - Operational team vacancies

Environment Agency

We are the Environment Agency. We protect and improve the environment. Acting to reduce the impacts of a changing climate on people and wildlife is at the heart of everything we do. We work with government, local councils, businesses, civil society groups and communities to make our environment a better place for people and wildlife. 

We’re investing £2.5 billion between now and 2021 that will reduce flood risk to 300,000 homes across the UK. It’s an exciting time and we need your help to ensure we’re prepared for any future flooding.

We are building capacity in our FCRM operational teams, and advertising job roles nationally.

You can view all vacancies and apply for roles on our recruitment system on GOV.UK

Talking about floods: blog

Dr Jacqui Cotton, PSI Theme Manager, has written a blog for on the challenges of flood risk communications, and the new evidence available.

Read it on the website.

Modelling catchment processes to reduce flood risk

The Pitt Review after the flooding in summer 2007 concluded that flooding from a range of sources can no longer be managed by building ever higher, lengthier and heavier defences in urban and rural areas. The review emphasised the need to ‘work with natural processes’ as part of integrated portfolios of responses to flooding and coastal erosion.

While there are many different tools and levels of approximation that can be used to model the movement of water through a catchment, the models, data and tools available for this alternative form of flood and coastal erosion risk management have not been benchmarked. This means it can be hard to select tools that help to understand the potential benefits of adopting working with natural processes measures within a catchment.

Examples of WwNP to reduce flood and coastal erosion risks in a conceptual catchment–estuary–coastal system
Examples of WwNP to reduce flood and coastal erosion risks 
in a conceptual catchment–estuary–coastal system

This recently published project reviewed existing modelling software, mapping techniques and data to establish how they could be used to assess a wide range of catchment processes to help develop flood and coastal erosion risk management projects that work with natural processes to reduce flood risk.

The summary, reports and case studies from this project can be downloaded from the project page.

EA blog: Engineering with nature

Read our recent blog about engineering with nature to help reduce flooding.

The blog discusses working with nature and gives examples of where this has been achieved. As well as helping to reduce the impacts of flooding it also provides other benefits to people and wildlife.

Read the full blog on our EA creating a better place blog page on GOV.UK

Now published! Quantifying the benefits of FCERM

This project has trialled the use of dependency modelling to establish whether it can provide a clear and evidence based explanation of how modelling, mapping and data, and stakeholder and community engagement activities contribute to flood and coastal erosion risk management (FCERM) outcomes.

This work will help the Environment Agency communicate how these activities contribute to improved outcomes and help identify where more effective or efficient ways of carrying out activities and realising outcomes could deliver better value for money in FCERM.

The research outputs are available to download from the project page.

Woodland for Water - Opportunity Mapping

Flood Risk and Water Quality Opportunity Maps

Working in partnership with the Forestry Commission and Forest Research we have produced GIS-based woodland creation opportunity maps for England and Wales.

The maps can be used to identify where to plant trees to help reduce flooding and/or reduce the input of diffuse pollutants (sources of pollution which have no clear point of origin) into watercourses. 

Please note these maps are not the targeting maps used for the new environmental stewardship scheme, for they have been used to inform the targeting maps.

Why is woodland creation important?
Planting woodland is important for people and wildlife. Woodlands can help remove carbon from the atmosphere, form important habitats for plants and animals, produce timber and wood fuel and provide amenity and recreational opportunities for people. 

Planting woodland can also help us implement River Basin Management Plans (RBMPs) and Flood Risk Management Plans (FRMPs) by slowing flood flows and intercepting diffuse pollutants before they enter watercourses, which helps reduce flood risk and improve water quality.

Woodland can help trap a range of diffuse pollutants in urban and rural locations, such as sediments, nutrients, pesticides and faecal indicator organisms. Targeted planting near known pollutant sources/pathways has been shown to reduce the amount of pollutants entering watercourses. Planting woodland near rivers can also provide shade to protect fish populations and improve the functioning of river bank and in-channel habitats.

What do the maps include?
The GIS-based opportunity maps cover the whole landscape and depict the most suitable locations to plant woodland to reduce flooding and or water pollution. The maps:

- cover England and Wales
- are at a scale of 1Km2
- include flooding from rivers and surface water
- include locations where runoff from soils is rapid 
- include diffuse pollutant loads for sediments, phosphates, nitrates, total pesticides and faecal indicator organisms
- include information on constraints to woodland planting (for example, existing woodland, urban areas and deep peat)

Where can I find the report?
The report can be downloaded from the Forest Research website.

How can I access the data?
Annex 1 describes the dataset. Please note: we are currently unable to share this dataset and we are working to resolve this problem.

To register your interest in obtaining the data, please contact the Environment Agency National Customer Contact Centre; and we will let you know you when can share it.  Please note that our maps are derived from a range of data sets and you may need permission from other institutions to use them.

FCERM Infrastructure Management and Performance (iMaP): Scoping a major new research initiative

iMAP aims to provide a significant programme of research (over 5 years) providing a new, richer, understanding of asset performance and how to manage asset systems efficiently and effectively.

The concept is that iMAP will be primarily funded through the research councils (subject to the normal peer review process) but shaped jointly by practitioners and researchers, and co-funded by the FCERM R&D Programme (data, in-kind and targeted funds).

Research Development Workshop
A workshop was held on 09 October, to start scoping a programme of research looking at Infrastructure Management and Performance (iMAP). The FCERM R&D Programme is providing funding for the scoping phase of what is hoped will be a programme grant submission to EPSRC (along with NERC and ESRC), to provide funding over approximately 5 years.

Research ideas, which fit within the framework described in the workshop report, are now encouraged. We can then start to build a consortium of researchers, and develop a coherent submission to EPSRC.

Further information on submitting ideas is contained in the report. To discuss submissions please contact:

Working with natural processes to reduce flood risk

We have developed a working with natural processes research and development framework.

This framework indentifies the research projects which need to be undertaken to help Flood Risk Management Authorities deliver flood risk management sustainably, improving the environment for people and wildlife.

The framework has been developed in partnership with a range of organisations including many lead experts within this field of science. It will be used to help prioritise projects for funding as part of the joint flood and coastal risk management research programme. It will also be used to develop external funding bids and to facilitate partnership working.

We are working with colleagues in Scotland and Wales to establish a natural flood management network to help share knowledge and best practice across the UK.

The outputs produced from this work can be downloaded from the project page.

Flood risk asset inspection - research to improve interventions

The asset inspection process is part of an overall cycle of risk and performance based asset management being developed by the Environment Agency under the Asset Performance Tools programme. This programme is translating previous research into practical guidance that can be used by all flood and coastal risk management authorities. 

The tiered framework provides tested methods to integrate key activities in the assessment cycle, directing the user to the appropriate level of activity according to the level of risk. 

This research shows that inspections can be targeted to need and interventions can be timed relative to the risk of expensive asset failure, rather than dictated by routine alone. Inspections are driven by a considered balance of investment and flood risk, offering the greatest impact on risk reduction at least cost.

The key outputs from this research can be accessed from the project page.

Aquatic and riparian plant management guide now published!

We have produced new guidance which includes a decision support framework to help you decide how to manage a range of plant species present in different types of watercourses. This guidance updates previous aquatic and riparian vegetation management publications and synthesises current research, legislation, new technologies and evolving best practice.

Embedding ecosystem services into FCERM

An academic from Northampton University has been looking at how the Environment Agency could embed ecosystem services into Flood and Coastal Erosion Risk Management (FCERM). Jim Rouquette spent a year working with the Environment Agency on a Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) funded fellowship.

The research found that whilst ecosystem services is a key EU and UK policy objective, ecosystem service assessments are used infrequently to assess different options in FCERM. This research developed an ecosystem services assessment methodology which could be applied to FCERM maintenance activities.

Outputs from this research can be downloaded from our website. These include:

Ecosystem Services and FCERM - Summary (PDF, 306 KB)
Ecosystem Services and FCERM (PDF, 3.01 MB)

Framework for Local Flood Risk

We're creating a new framework for Local Flood Risk. You can find out about the new framework in our Local Flood Risk Research Framework briefing.

We're hoping that this new framework will inspire a real change through grass roots involvement in prioritising and delivering research. Get involved!

Two important updates published to help deliver WFD

Two important updates have been published that will help deliver Water Framework Directive (WFD) solutions and mitigation measures:

  • The updated River Restoration Centre's manual of river restoration techniques is an on-line case study manual which can be found on the River Restoration Centre website.You can download the research summary from our SC110027 project page.
  • Healthy Catchments - managing water for flood risk and the WFD is new on-line guide that updates the previous Mitigation Measure Manual. The guide can be found on the EU RESTORE websiteYou can download the research summary from our SC120019 project page.

Modelling with confidence - benchmarking the latest generation of 2D models

Over the last year the Environment Agency has been working closely with both Flood and Coastal Risk Management (FCRM) community and Professor Gary Pender (Herriot Watt University) to assess the latest generation of 2D hydraulic models for FCRM purposes and sketching out options for updating it in future.

2D hydraulic flood models are a vital tool in assessing flood risk and the effects of interventions. They support many vital applications including flood mapping, wider risk assessment and appraisal of options as well as supporting the design of structural measures such as flood defences.

2D screenshot

This research produced up-to-date evidence of which hydraulic modelling packages are suitable for which types of flood risk management modelling applications so that Environment Agency operational teams and practitioners can apply available flood modelling tools with confidence. It also promotes continuous improvement in the flood model developer community and has helped to raise modelling capabilities and standards.

You can download a copy of the report and summary from our project page.