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Flood Challenges for Engineers

Poor old Canute; he often gets quoted as someone who thought he could control the tide. The reality is that he was demonstrating to his courtiers that he couldn’t.
And, of course, we can’t either but we can manage flood risk to a degree, provided that we have a sound understanding of the risk.
Howard Glenn’s call (NCE last week) to stop development on flood plains might stabilise the cost of property damage as a result of flooding, but would deny to existing property owners the opportunity to improve their properties and introduce a planning blight to hundreds of communities that would be condemned to economic decline.
Are we to abandon the Thames, Humber and Severn estuaries and large swathes of Lincolnshire and Cambridgeshire?
The reality is that we encourage population growth and that people want choice about where they live and have strong views about where development should be allowed.
The pressure on land in these islands would increase dramatically if flood plains became no-go zones. Yes, we face a challenge but surely as engineers we should rise to it using our innovative skills. It may involve new ways of living – floating homes, for instance – but climate change will require adaptation of many aspects of our lives.
 PETER BORROWS(M), peterborrows@gmail.com

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