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Flood defence needs hard decisions


As a member of the ICE Commission responsible for the report that sparked off the debate in NCE on flood defence (22 November), I am encouraged by the balanced and reasoned arguments presented by Mervyn Bramley and Gillian Holland.

When we drafted the relevant sections in the report, we were not thinking about ripping out the hearts of our historic towns - we had more recent and less desirable developments in mind. The report recognises the importance of preserving our cultural heritage and discusses the options for flood alleviation for buildings that were constructed on the floodplain in times when the threat was not so great, and the damages caused less significant.

Gillian Holland describes her own practical approach to damage limitation.

There is a wide range of tools available to us for flood risk management, from communitybased flood warden schemes to the construction of major flood defence infrastructure. In some instances there will be a need for hard decisions, one of which could be managed abandonment.

As the report says: 'We should not shy away from reclaiming urban channels that have been culverted or encroached upon by development.'

Charlie Rickard, divisional director, Mott MacDonald, Demeter House, Station Road, Cambridge CB1 2RS

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