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Sustainable defence of coastal areas advocated - not abandonment

Your report on our presentation to the recent Civils 2007 event states that we claimed that Hull and other towns and communities must be allowed to sink into the sea (News, last week). This is absolutely not the case.

We set out a number of potential strategies for managing future flood risk, including making areas at risk of flooding more resilient, managing extreme event flood flows above ground, and managed retreat.

Managed retreat (sometimes referred to as managed realignment) is a means of defending coastal areas that recognises that a sustainable solution may require some land to be given up in order to protect remaining areas. It is a recognised method that avoids some of the adverse effects of more conventional "hard" defences.

It is currently part of Environment Agency policy, and has been used successfully in the UK and elsewhere in the world, including the Netherlands and the US. It is not the same as abandonment. We did not, and do not, advocate the abandonment of any community to flooding.

Sustainable solutions to future flood risk, in the context of inevitable climate change impacts and the need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, will require a rigorous understanding of the causes of flood risk in a specific area. Solutions will need to be affordable, socially acceptable and environmentally sensitive, and are likely to involve a variety of approaches, including both traditional and innovative methods.

We made this perfectly clear in our presentation.

PROFESSOR DAVID BALMFORTH,MWH technical director david.j.balmforth@mwhglobal.com

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