Achieving sustainable flood-risk management in the UK

Flooding Policy Forum 8 Nov 2016 Audience

Achieving sustainable flood-risk management in the UK

Tuesday 8 November 2016 Royal Geographical Society (with IBG), 1 Kensington Gore, London, SW7 2AR

The panel discussion explored the development of a long-term, comprehensive strategy for flood risk management in the United Kingdom. Expert panellists, and the professional audience, considered how flood risk can be effectively managed across landscapes and communities, touching on the following questions:

  • How can we effectively manage flood-risk in our urban environments and our farmed landscapes?
  • How can we build resilience within communities and what role should central and local government play in this?
  • What insights can an appreciation of space and place bring to flood-risk management? For example, research on river and landscape dynamics and an understanding of historical change.

Background: Flooding in the UK

Further background and context for the discussion can be found on the 21st Century Challenges blog.

Interviews with panellists

Martin Rogers, Flood Management and Access Adviser for the National Farmers’ Union discusses sustainable flood risk management in farmed landscapes:


Professor Colin Thorne, Chair of Physical Geography at the University of Nottingham discusses sustainable flood risk management in urban environments:


Professor David Sear, Professor in Physical Geography at the University of Southampton discusses physical factors that influence flood risk and the importance of long-term records:


Policy recommendations

The Society launched a set of policy recommendations, an outcome from a round table meeting of flooding experts, from across geography and other disciplines, held in May 2016.

Audio recording

Listen to the audio recording of the panel discussion.


Download speakers’ presentations

Chair and panellists


(Chair) Roger Harrabin: BBC Environment Analyst and senior journalist on the environment and energy.

Roger Harrabin is recognised as one of the world’s leading journalists and broadcasters on the environment and has won many awards for broadcasting on issues relating to sustainable development. Roger started his career at the Coventry Evening Telegraph, and as a freelance journalist on Fleet Street before moving to the BBC nearly thirty years’ ago. He has since reported on programmes such as Panorama, Newsnight, Assignment, The Ten O’Clock News, BBC World and The World at One, drawing public attention to issues across environment, transport, energy, development, public health and economics. He is as Associate Press Fellow at Wolfson College, Cambridge and a Visiting Fellow at Green Templeton College, Oxford.

martin-rogers_web_editMartin Rogers, National Farmers Union     

Martin Rogers is Flood Management and Access Adviser for the National Farmers’ Union (NFU), the industry association for farmers in England and Wales. The NFU has 55,000 members, representing 70 per cent of active farmers in England and Wales. Martin leads the NFU’s policy work on flood resilience and natural flood management, river maintenance, and recovery from recent extreme weather events. Martin sits on the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology’s working group reviewing current literature on the extent to which trees influence flooding.


carly_rose_web_editCarly Rose, Mary Dhonau Associates

Carly Rose is an Associate Consultant at Mary Dhonau Associates (MDA), a small consultancy specialising in stakeholder engagement, flood awareness, flood prevention and resilience. Consultants with MDA have direct experience of being flooded. MDA works extensively with communities at risk, with Government and the media. Carly has substantial flood management experience, gained at the Environment Agency and has co-authored guides on flood recovery and flood resilience for home-owners . Carly is undertaking a PhD part-time at the University of the West of England, examining the interface between flood resilience adoption and the psychology of decision-making.


professor-david-sear_web_editProfessor David Sear, University of Southampton

David is Professor of Physical Geography at the University of Southampton. He has for over 25 years advised Governments and NGOs on sediment management, river and floodplain restoration. He studies the movement and fate of fine and coarse sediments, completing major studies on the impacts of agricultural fine sediments on aquatic ecology, sediment management in England and Wales and the role of river catchment restoration on flooding. Lately his research has focused on the use of historical data to extend records of climate and flooding in rivers and at the coast, and the impacts of extreme floods on channel dynamics.


colin-thorne_web_editProfessor Colin Thorne, University of Nottingham                       

Colin has researched flooding and sustainable flood risk management in the UK and overseas for over three decades. He is Chair of Physical Geography at the University of Nottingham and an Affiliate Professor at Colorado State University. Colin led the ‘Blue-Green Cities’ research project‘ (2013-16), developing new strategies for managing urban flood risk, alongside environmental enhancement and urban renewal. He now leads a new project on ‘Achieving Urban Flood Resilience in an Uncertain Future‘ that has just started. In June, Colin was presented with the Back Award by the RGS-IBG, ‘For contributions to the scientific study of rivers and the shaping of  national and international policy on rivers and flood risk management.’


sarah_whatmore_web_editProfessor Sarah Whatmore, University of Oxford

Professor Whatmore is one of the world’s leading experts on the relationship between environmental science and the democratic governance of environmental risks and hazards. Professor Whatmore led a ground-breaking project in Ryedale (North Yorkshire), ‘Understanding Environmental Knowledge Controversies‘ that resulted in the development of better ways of engaging communities affected by flood risk, incorporating local knowledge and understanding to enhance flood-risk modelling. Professor Whatmore is Professor of Environment and Public Policy and Academic Champion for Public Engagement with Research at the University of Oxford, an elected Fellow of the British Academy, the Academy of Social Sciences and the RGS-IBG.


Hazel Durant, Head of Water and Flood Integration, Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Hazel reflected on the panellists’ contributions in a five-minute slot, discussing the UK Government’s strategy for flood-risk management in the long-term, including the anticipated ’25-year plan’ for the natural environment.