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Climate change: England flood planners ‘must prepare for worst’ Say Environment Agency

May 9, 2019

By Paul Homewood



h/t Phil Bratby



Harrabin unsurprisingly hypes the latest nonsense about flooding from the Environment Agency:




Britain’s flood planners must prepare for the worst on climate change, the Environment Agency has warned.

Its chairwoman, Emma Howard Boyd, said on current trends, global temperature could rise between 2C and 4C by 2100 and £1bn a year would need to be spent on flood management.

She said some communities may even need to move because of the risk of floods.

The government said it would be seeking evidence for its own flood policy in the autumn.

Ms Howard Boyd, launching the consultation on the agency’s flood strategy, said government policy should ensure that all publicly-funded infrastructure is resilient to flooding and coastal change by 2050.

“We can’t win a war against water by building away climate change with infinitely high flood defences,” she said.

She called for more to be done to encourage property owners to rebuild homes after flooding in better locations, and with improvements such as raised electrics, hard flooring and flood doors, rather than just "recreating what was there before".

However, she warned that in some places "the scale of the threat may be so significant that recovery will not always be the best long term solution" and communities would need help to "move out of harm’s way".

The agency expects more intense bursts of rain and continuing coastal erosion.

It calculates that, for every person who suffers flooding, about 16 more are affected by loss of services such as power, transport and telecommunications.

Ms Howard Boyd warned that climate change and population growth in England meant that properties built in the floodplain will double over the next 50 years.

The agency points towards research from the Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership which suggests that losses on UK mortgages could also double if global temperatures increase by 2C and triple if warming hits 4C.

These would be insurance-related losses related to outcomes of climate change such as more extreme weather.

Ms Howard-Boyd said the government’s six-year flood programme had given flood and coastal protection “a shot in the arm”, but she warned that more will be needed.

Environment Minister Therese Coffey said: “Flooding and coastal erosion can have terrible consequences for people, businesses and the environment.

"That’s why we are already providing £2.6bn over six years, delivering more than 1,500 projects to better protect 300,000 homes.”

But she added that "the threat of climate change will mean an increasing risk and preparing the country is a priority for the government, and the nation as a whole".

In a statement, Friends of the Earth said: “Smarter adaptation and resilience building – including natural flood management measures like tree-planting – is undeniably important.

“But the focus must be first and foremost on slashing emissions so that we can avoid the worst consequences of climate chaos in the first place.

“With its relentless pursuit of fracking, airport expansion, and road building, and barely tepid support for renewable energy, our government is failing with this regard." 



As usual, the EA report is full of fearmongering and highly speculative projections, which have absolutely no basis in fact at all.

As for Harrabin, he is quite happy to quote FOE propaganda, but is remarkably reluctant to show his readers the actual facts:




Sea levels along the vulnerable east coast have been rising at just 1.89mm a year since the start of the 20thC, with no acceleration. Indeed, they have barely risen at all this century.

Indeed the 50-year trend is running at a much lower rate.



Last year, the Committee on Climate Change published a report pushing the same overhyped alarm. They claimed that 520,000 properties were at risk of coastal flooding.

Or as Harrabin described it:



In actual fact, the number of properties affected by coastal flooding is tiny. For instance, according to the Environment Agency, in 2013, when the worst tidal surge for 60 years hit the east coast, only 1400 properties were flooded.

Terrible for the inhabitants, and we obviously need to carry on doing all we can to protect homes in flood prone areas. But the problem hardly warrants the apocalyptic message from the EA.


As floodplains, perhaps the stupid woman should understand why they are called that!


It is quite disgraceful for Emma Howard Boyd to be pushing this scaremongering onto the public, with all of the very real damage this can do to coastal communities, who may see the value of their properties hit as a result.

  1. David Bains permalink
    May 9, 2019 11:30 am

    The BBC have also used a a rare photo of a very severe southerly gale on Brighton seafront. Where due to a century of beachfront development behind a huge shingle beach there is no erosion at all!

    • It doesn't add up... permalink
      May 9, 2019 7:16 pm

      Well – not quite. There is longshore drift and periodic correction measures between the groynes.

  2. May 9, 2019 11:31 am

    Emma Howard Boyd is a fully paid-up member of the Greenblob, who knows nothing at all about flooding. From

    “Emma Howard Boyd is the Chair of the Environment Agency, an Ex officio board member of the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs, and has recently been appointed as the UK Commissioner to the Global Commission on Adaptation.

    Emma serves on a number of boards and advisory committees which include:

    Menhaden Capital PLC
    The Prince’s Accounting for Sustainability Project
    Green Finance Institute

    She has worked in financial services for over 25 years, in corporate finance and fund management. As Director of Stewardship at Jupiter Asset Management until July 2014, Emma was integral to the development of their expertise in the corporate governance and sustainability fields.

    Her previous board and advisory roles include:

    Vice Chair of Future Cities Catapult
    a director of the Aldersgate Group and Triodos Renewables PLC
    Chair of UKSIF (the UK Sustainable Investment and Finance Association)
    a member of the Commission on Environmental Markets and Economic Performance and the Green Finance Taskforce”.

    Why is she supporting this: “properties built in the floodplain will double over the next 50 years”? Does she not even realise what a floodplain is?

    Another person unsuitable for the highly paid job she enjoys!

    • mjr permalink
      May 9, 2019 12:35 pm

      I have worked in Financial Services for 40 years. Actually i worked a number of years in insurance so I do know a bit about flooding … Probably overqualified for this role. Unfortunately as usual, genuine concerns that we and the environment agency should have about flooding due to building and concreting over floodplains, drainage of moorlands, dredging etc etc which lead to flooding have been lost in this because of the need to relate everything to global warming and rising sea levels.
      And BBC do not help with their usual approach here and elsewhere. For example last nights episode of “Earth from Space” had nice visuals but an appalling narrative which again tried to link all sorts of dilemmas and issues to global warming. – especially the usual errors of forest fires and increased hurricane activity .

  3. Thomas Carr permalink
    May 9, 2019 11:45 am

    As I have written before I was taught that East Anglia is slowly dipping down relative to other parts of the country. Perhaps this is now regarded as cod geology but if not the concern for the erosion of the east coast has little to do with sea levels and everything to do with the horizontal power of the sea and the weakness of the shoreline

  4. Ian Wilson permalink
    May 9, 2019 11:51 am

    Thomas Carr is absolutely correct – I learned about geological sinking of England’s East coast as a schoolboy 70-odd years ago (whilst Scotland’s is rising), so why don’t the Environment agency know this?

    • Curious George permalink
      May 9, 2019 3:55 pm

      Why should the Environment agency know anything?

  5. May 9, 2019 12:12 pm

    Most idiotic statement: “But the focus must be FIRST and foremost on SLASHING EMISSIONS so that we can avoid the worst consequences of climate chaos in the first place.” THEN SHE GOES ON TO EXPLAIN the real reason for her existence, the sales pitch: “With its relentless pursuit of fracking, airport expansion, and road building, and BARELY TEPID SUPPORT FOR RENEWABLE ENERGY, our government is failing with this regard.” So “prepare” for your version of the “Green New Deal” .. seems you have more than your share of AOCs .. with media backing it all the way ..

    • charles wardrop permalink
      May 9, 2019 12:45 pm

      With little over a 1% contribution to global CO2 output, the UK cannot help.
      All the CCActs do , in reality, is impoverish us and showing the wprld what fools we are.
      Time for Repeal of the CCActs (2008,9)

    • mjr permalink
      May 9, 2019 7:16 pm

      “With its relentless pursuit of fracking,……. , our government is failing with this regard.” can’t say i had notice this happening

    • Jud Kirk permalink
      May 9, 2019 11:31 pm

      “with its relentless pursuit” etc is actually a quote from FOE. I can’t understand why Harrabin thinks they add credibility to his article

  6. May 9, 2019 12:13 pm

    The Environment Agency does have previous form on scary computer predictions:

    “Urgent action needed on climate change”
    New research by the Environment Agency and the Tyndall Centre
    for Climate Change Research at the University of East Anglia
    shows that the decisions of this generation will leave a
    legacy of increasing climate change over the next millennium
    unless there is a major reduction in emissions.

    With temperatures increasing by up to 15°C and seas rising by
    up to 11.4 metres, low-lying areas of the UK would be
    threatened with flooding and the UK’s climate could resemble
    that of today’s tropics by the year 3000.

    ‘Climate Change on the Millennial Timescale’ is the first
    study to comprehensively examine impacts beyond the end of
    this century. The report shows that without major reductions
    in emissions by 2025, abrupt climate changes could occur.

    Environment Agency Chief Executive, Barbara Young, said the
    new research showed that the next 25 years were crucial in
    making tough decisions on reducing the impacts of climate
    UK’s ‘sobering’ climate forecast

    “The UK could face major flooding and tropical temperatures by the year 3000 if greenhouse gas emissions are not sharply reduced, a new study says.”

    The latest attempt:
    “global temperature could rise between 2C and 4C by 2100”

    Strangely, UK temperatures (CET annual) have hardly moved over the last 30 years, in spite of rising CO2.

    We must have the wrong sort of CO2, just as we used to have the wrong sort of snow,

  7. Phoenix44 permalink
    May 9, 2019 12:20 pm

    Well yes. Aren’t planners supposed to prepare for the worst? The question then is the cost versus the benefit. Since moving houses from possible flood locations basically costs the cost of a house, it doesn’t’ make much sense to do that until the house gets flooded. Harribin and the various imbeciles at these agencies don’t seem to understand the point that we wouldn’t’t spend £300,000 now to avoid the possibility if losing £300,000 in the future.

    • May 9, 2019 12:57 pm

      … and to establish “the worst” look to the real events of the past, not to the output of computer models.

    • spetzer86 permalink
      May 9, 2019 2:44 pm

      Sell after a dry year, preferably after a few dry years. People forget so easily.

      • Pancho Plail permalink
        May 10, 2019 6:31 pm

        For just £9 anyone can buy a flood risk assessment for a UK property from the Land Registry.

  8. keith permalink
    May 9, 2019 12:30 pm

    Interesting article in Climate Change Despatch about CNN the rabid warming TV channel, has decided to move from Atlanta to the Hudson River in New York which is predicted by the warmies to be under water in a few years. Do they know it is all a hoax, while still saying doom is upon us through rising sea levels!!

  9. Harry Passfield permalink
    May 9, 2019 12:55 pm

    “Emma Howard Boyd, said on current trends, global temperature could rise between 2C and 4C” – does she mean, observed trends or modelled trends?

    • The Man at the Back permalink
      May 9, 2019 4:19 pm

      Well Harry – given that the Met Office and the EA are in the same bed (and even share an Ops Centre I believe), I think we know which it is and where the model predictions come from. One just feeds the other.

      The Hadley Centre still seems to think that they are modelling the Earth’s Climate despite a lot evidence to the contrary.

  10. Harry Passfield permalink
    May 9, 2019 1:01 pm

    ‘We can’t…build infinitely high flood defences. No! You don’t say, Emma!

  11. Joe Public permalink
    May 9, 2019 1:01 pm

    “Its chairwoman, Emma Howard Boyd….. said some communities may even need to move because of the risk of floods.”

    Some in coastal communities realise the risk, so have already put their property up for sale at fire-sale prices. There are now 41 bargain-basement properties available in the Sandbanks area of Dorset alone priced at >+£2.5m:

  12. MrGrimNasty permalink
    May 9, 2019 1:41 pm

    I’ve rattled on about the pointless Shoreham tidal flood defence scheme which was cost justified by the EA assuming crazy sea level rises (10 times reality I think).

    There are some peculiar houses just to the north of the A259 coast road with 3 floors at the front and 2 at the back. I recently found out that this was because the sea used to lap in at that point and eroded the land into a small cliff – the houses were built over it.

    The coast road still very occasionally floods at that point under exceptionally high tides and storm surge, as it has done my whole life – and it will continue to because there’s an open slip way there!

    But there you have it, the sea has easy access, but it is apparently making less inroads than it was 100 years ago or so, despite the supposed dangerous rise, (Yes obviously the waterfront has been modified over the years, but that doesn’t affect this point.)

  13. May 9, 2019 1:51 pm

    Flood risk assessments affects the house insurance.
    Scare stories like this one could become a self fulfilling prophecy
    If insurance companies see this as an opportunity to increase there premiums or actually believe the hype. Although house prices will have to come down a lot to reach build costs.
    Most flooding is not coastal but from rivers. Many factors contribute to this not just the amount of rain fall and the time period of the rain. Waterway maintenance , reservoirs and how full they are kept as well as building on known flood risk land to name a few.

    • Joe Public permalink
      May 9, 2019 2:42 pm

      “Flood risk assessments affects the house insurance.

      If insurance companies see this as an opportunity to increase their premiums or actually believe the hype.”

      There’s an adage that if insurance companies offer flood insurance on a property, such properties are generally at very little risk from flooding.

  14. Patrick Harcourt permalink
    May 9, 2019 2:49 pm

    This is terrible news. The flooding could mean the Houses of Parliament could soon be under water and the members of the Climate Change Committee could all be carried out to sea never to be heard of again.

    • May 10, 2019 2:43 pm

      It’s happened before:

      There was a mighty inundation in 1236, recorded by John Stow in his Chronicles of England. “The River Thames, overflowing its banks, caused the marshes all about Woolwich to be all a’ sea, wherein boats and other vessels were carried by the stream, so that, besides cattle, a great number of inhabitants were drowned, and in the great Palace of Westminster men did row with wherries in the midst of the Hall.”

      And again:

      30th September, 1555

      ‘The last day of September by occasion of great wind and rain that has fallen, were such great floods that that morning the King’s Palace in Westminster and Westminster Hall was overflown with water up to the stairfoot going to the Chancery and King’s Bench. And by report there that morning, a wherryman rowed with his boat over Westminster Bridge into the Palace Court, and so through the gate into King Street.’

      And again…
      “The great 1928 flood of London”

      “It was after midnight when the river burst its banks. Most Londoners slept as the floodwaters gushed into some of the nation’s grandest buildings and subsumed many of city’s narrowest slum streets under 4ft of water.

      The Houses of Parliament, the Tate Gallery and the Tower of London were all swamped. So too, tragically, were many of the crowded basement dwellings into which the city’s poorest families were crammed. Some 14 souls drowned and thousands were left homeless.”

      And there have always been problems with leaks:

  15. May 9, 2019 3:12 pm

    well, the outlook for Holland is dire!

  16. Ian permalink
    May 9, 2019 4:00 pm

    “Properties built in the floodplain will double over the next 50 years.” It doesn’t have to be like that, surely?

  17. May 9, 2019 5:08 pm

    This was the lead item on BBC R4 PM this evening, sorry can’t report what was said, now very skilled at use of the OFF switch.

    • May 9, 2019 5:21 pm

      it was a typical BBC “balanced” discussion, involving Lord Stern and Baroness Worthington, both spouting the usual propaganda and lies.

  18. Arthur Clapham permalink
    May 9, 2019 5:54 pm

    I live in the Cambridgeshire Fens, where rivers and drains used to be regularly dredged, but are now neglected thanks to instructions from our European masters. Many Fenland rivers are much narrower and shallow. The system requires a similar overhaul to the the work carried out on the Somerset Levels a few years ago thanks to the environment Minister Owen Patterson who got things moving very quickly.

    • It doesn't add up... permalink
      May 9, 2019 7:25 pm

      Repealing the Water Directive inspired legislation and pursuing some common sense policies are high on the list of things I would do following a proper Brexit.

  19. mjr permalink
    May 9, 2019 7:20 pm

    oh dear.. C4 news introduces a feature quoting the Environment Agency scare story about climate change then spends its time talking about the river flooding in Carlisle in 2015 and river defences which is nothing to do with climate change. investigative Journalism? Hah!

  20. Dave Ward permalink
    May 9, 2019 7:22 pm

    “She called for more to be done to encourage property owners to rebuild homes after flooding in better locations”

    One might ask why planning authorities continue to allow development in flood prone areas in the first place!

    • john cooknell permalink
      May 10, 2019 9:32 pm

      Planning authorities allow development on flood plains?

      The way the planning system works, is that Site Specific Flood Risk Assessments are required for all development in Flood prone Zones 2 and 3 as defined by the Environment Agency flood maps.

      The applicant produces this assessment, it is not independent, the applicant can choose from a suite of approved flood modelling techniques, all of which are considered suitable for the job. It is unusual for the site specific flood risk assessment to be challenged by either the planning authority or the environment agency. Most often the Environment Agency make no comment even if they are consulted.

      I have yet to read an applicants Flood Risk Assessment that says that the flood risk to the area is increased by the proposed development, or that the development will be at risk of flooding. They all conclude with a phrase something to the effect ” although the development is shown by the EA as in flood Zone 2/3, the modelling results indicate that this development has no detrimental impact on downstream properties and will not be affected by 1 in 100 year flooding”.

      The planning system is the to ALLOW development on the flood plain, it is not there to stop development on the flood plain.

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