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Wetter winters leave civils to combat

CIVIL ENGINEERS will in future play a key role in flood mitigation and in designing structures to withstand flooding, the all party parliamentary group for the built environment was told this week.

Continued flood plain development is inevitable, the parliamentary group concluded, placing a heavy burden on engineering to provide technical solutions to flooding.

The parliamentary group of nine MPs and three Lords met at the ICE last week and heard compelling evidence that climate change will increase winter rainfall in the UK.

Members of the group agreed with the ICE view put forward by immediate past president George Fleming that the cost of flood protection should be borne by developers, who should also then bear risk for failure of flood protection.

Fleming is to lead a Government review of existing flood defences.

Development's vulnerability to flooding is exacerbated by Government funding provisions which do not take into account the threat posed by global warming, said Environment Agency chairman Sir John Harman.

Climate change means the Agency will have to cope with drought during drier summers as well as wetter winters, Harman explained.

Compelling evidence in support of Harman's claim was presented by Met Office Climate Prediction Programme principal scientist Geoff Jenkins.

Jenkins assured the group that wetter winters were inevitable and that this, coupled with increasing rainfall intensity, will present major challenges for engineers in mitigating flood damage for many years to come.

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