Increasing flood resilience in the River Great Ouse

December 23, 2021 8:00 AM
Originally published by Dave Hodgson - Mayor of Bedford Borough

Bedford Town Bridge Flooding December 2020It is almost a year since the floods of December 2020 in the River Great Ouse catchment.

The flooding was caused by continued heavy rainfall on already saturated ground and affected many homes and communities across the region.

Over the last year, the Environment Agency has worked with local communities to better understand the effects of the flooding, and to help improve resilience to such flood events.

An improved flood warning service has been activated and is ready for winter. The 25 highest risk areas in the River Great Ouse catchment can now receive earlier flood warnings than ever before. This free service gives those affected more time to prepare for flooding, and to protect their families and homes.

For properties in areas not protected by flood defences, the Environment Agency is looking at the potential for new schemes and also other measures such as Property Flood Resilience (PFR).

The Environment Agency has also supported a number of local flood action groups to help them better prepare their communities for future flood events.

Simon Hawkins, Environment Agency Area Director, said "The Environment Agency has worked constantly over the years to better protect thousands of properties from flooding in the River Great Ouse catchment. Since December 2020 we have taken a range of measures to improve flood resilience across the region. We have engaged with communities affected by flooding and inspected and repaired thousands of flood defence assets. Our flood defence capital programme has continued to progress, with more flood defence schemes under construction. Flooding will continue to be a threat to our region. The effects are devastating to those affected and disruptive to many people, with recovery costs that can be huge. We can never eliminate flooding and we urge people to be prepared for flooding by following the 'Prepare, Act, Survive' guidance."