Project outcomes and beyond

Final event

In February of 2020, the event "TRT's Flood Risk Management for the Next Decade - a Multi-Layered Safety Approach's Flood Risk Management for the Next Decade - a Multi-Layered Safety Approach" was held. Could the MLS concept be applied wider within the UK and inform sustainable Flood Risk Management? Key speakers demonstrate the range and scope of the discussions at the conference. They cover integrated approaches to flood risk management which have been used to reduce flood risk and increase community flood resilience.

The video below includes presentations from and interviews with the speakers.

Specific outcomes

  • The preparedness of the community has increased; this has made the citizens more resilient to flood risk .  This has partly been accomplished through the leaflets with estate agents and Churches Together, delivering community events and working closely with riparain owners and the Southwell Flood Forum.
  • All the planned NFM interventions have been placed
  • MLS approach is being promoted in other communities and at many conferences  by representatives of the Trent River Trust, National Flood Forum and Notthingham Trent University

Process results

  • Increased interactions among stakeholders
  • Increase knowledge about flood risk management and responsibilities for all involved
  • Increased awareness of citizens about flood risk and self-preparedness. 

In the video below, the lessons learnt and outcomes of this pilot are summarized:

Flood risk management strategies (FRMS)

The flood risk governance in England is very complex.  It involves public and private organisations from many sectors, including spatial planning. Flood risk governance is managed at central and local level  (Buijs et al. 2018). 

Layers of MLS Before FRAMES During FRAMES After FRAMES
1 Flood protection Alleviation scheme started by the Nottingham County Council after the flood in 2013 (interview pilot manager, 2019)

No hard measures as part of FRAMES

No hard measures as part of FRAMES

2 Spatial adaptation NFM intervention as part of Trent Rivers Trust work (interview with pilot manager, 2019) NFM interventions implemented by Trent Rivers Trust (interview with pilot manager, 2019) Maintenance of the NFM interventions by landowners.
3 Preparedness and response Community resilience measures carried out by Southwell Flood Forum (local Flood Action Group): 15 warning schemes (e.g. close roads), flood gates at household level (interview with pilot manager, 2019) Community resilience measures: awareness rising of citizens (talks, workshops, community events, social media, flood awareness badge), empowering local communities (schools, riparian owners, landowners, activate the local Flood Action group) (interview with pilot manager, 2019) Potential creation of a riparian landowners group (legacy of the project) and activation of the Southwell Flood Forum group.

Continue building community resilience will depend on Southwell Flood Forum working with the community with the support of other partners such as Nottinghamshire County Council (interview with pilot manager, 2019)

4 Resilient recovery Not the focus of this pilot. The more aware people are, the more prepared and the faster they will recover from a flood event. This should be the message to promote within the community (interview with pilot manager, 2019) The community measures undertaken during the project, such as practicing road closures, will make it likely that the community will be able to handle an incident more effectively and deal with early stages of recovery. The National Flood Forum and Southwell Flood Forum will be able to help individuals by being a point of contact, help through the insurance process and find accommodation if need be by working in partnership with Risk Management Authorities (interview with pilot manager, 2018)

Lessons learnt

Knowledge needs for flood resilience: Building social capital is key to increase community resilience. Moreover, increasing flood risk awareness of local communities means changing people’s perceptions and it’s a slow process (interview with pilot manager, 2019).

Lessons learnt about:

Applying MLS technique: Working within a catchment means crossing boundaries, political or administrative. When applying MLS approach, stakeholders involvement from every layer of governance and collaboration among them is very important. Thus, in this FRAMES pilot the different governance layers are: the EU, national level, the Nottinghamshire County Council at regional level, Southwell Flood Forum, Town Council and individual land owners at local level. Collaboration among stakeholders across the governance layers is very important to avoid hitting barriers.

In relation to the MLS, NFM is in between prevention (layer 1) and spatial planning (layer 2) because the selected areas where water storage measures are based in the upper catchement. Southwell Flood Forum and the National Flood Forum actually are indirectly taking measures within several layers of the MLS approach at the same time: protection of communities, prevention via spatial planning and response. Thus, the more aware people are, the more prepared and the faster they will recover from a flood event. This should be the message to promote within the community.

Methods / techniques to learn about impact on systems: Walking through the catchment combined with modelling. ArcMap is used to identify  flow pathways (based on topography) and where to implement the NFM measures.

Methods / techniques community involvement: Stakeholders and communities are approached using surveys, community events, meetings, door to door visits (homes, business), face to face chats, banner advertising FRAMES. In general being approachable, easy going, getting to be in the town.

Main uncertainties and challenges encountered

For NFM a challenge can be motivating and engaging with the land owners. Most have been supportive of the FRAMES project once designs are explained and options considered. The works grant agreement has allowed for and economic resource to be installed within the farm.

Building community resilience is about involving the wider community and not just those that have been flooded, as everyone has a role to play in reducing flood risk.  Flooding events can have negative impacts on anyone and the aim of this pilot scheme is to help a whole community prepare for a flooding event, as it is believed that, the more one is prepared the easier it is to recover from such an traumatic event.  However, many people have an apathy towards flooding and engaging with people on flooding issues is very difficult unless they have been flooded and have experienced the consequences.

Southwell has not suffered a significant flooding event since 2013 and momentum on flooding issues has dropped off considerably, people have become complacent and are mainly waiting for the Alleviation Scheme to kick in, making community engagement harder.  Make believe, falsely, that the alleviation scheme will solve all their problems.  However, Southwell Flood Forum do have a strong presence  within the town due to their work with the wider community and this has enabled the National Flood Forum to make contacts and work with other community groups to raise flood awareness and increase community resilience.

Barriers encountered through the implementation process

Funding. The budget for the maintenance of the interventions should be taken from the project budget. Within FRAMES, some money was put to the  side for  5 years of maintenance beyond the project, after that there in uncertainty . In the UK,  governance  is evolving and who is responsible for installing NFM interventions depends on the water course.  Different watercourses have different owners, making management regimes, maintenance plans and funding for such works incredibly variable.

Lack of volunteers. Because people give up their free time to volunteer, many people are not motivated in flooding issues. Moreover, volunteers need to be continuously replaced and trained, people move away, pass away or simply have other responsibilities.  This needs to be driven from within the community rather than a state agency, if it is to have any long term credibility with the community. Various organisations have an important role in supporting community initiatives. 

Dissemination and up-scaling of pilot results

The National Flood Forum, Trent River Trust and the Nottingham Trent University promote the FRAMES project and MLS approach in community talks, and in many conferences to wider stakeholders.

A riparian group legacy could continue building community resilience if linked to the on-going work of Southwell Flood Forum.  Nationally, there are significant barriers with regards to riparian ownership, especially in urban areas, due to the complexity of roles and responsibilities, the fragmentation of ownership, a lack of clarity about responsibilities when people buy properties, a lack of state support and a lack of enforcement where maintenance is not undertaken.

Social capital appears to play a significant role in building and maintaining community resilience.  Areas such as Southwell have many residents that are able to provide knowledge, time, resources and funding to support a pilot project such as FRAMES.  However, if areas lack social capital (information, social, economic development, community competence and

human capital) this al

one can be a significant barrier to building community resilience.  Unless social capacity improves to enable communities to engage with the state effectively, this will be the biggest barrier for the community resilience.  The consequence is that once sufficient social capital has been created, such as in Southwell, relevant organisations have an important role in encouraging communities and in making sure that barriers are not put in their way.

The NFM interventions will hopefully still be in place after FRAMES. The earth bunds are built to last, the leaky barriers will may last for 15-20 years. The Nottingham Trent University’s research has provided evidence to show that impact of NFM on the hydrograph. However, the Nottingham County Council have been gaining knowledge on NFM and so can implement the interventions more widely and continue the legacy through projects in a wider area (Nottinghamshire). NFM is applied in different places in the country and indirectly is similar to MLS. The Nottingham Trent University and the EA will be the actors that could take the implementation of NFM at national level.

However, the biggest barrier of up-scaling of the NFM intervention is the lack of governance regarding this type of measures. Governance is evolving but is complex and needs to consider what is appropriate for different types of intervention in a range of scenarios.   For instance, agri-environment payments could be replaced by a payment for ecosystem services. It would give landowners a sense of ownership over it and they would get some extra income as a compensation for giving up land and crops. This process will take time to evolve. An additional way to upscale is through the PhD of Josh Wells supervised by Dr Jillian Labadz. Josh Wells as part of Trent Rivers Trust gave a presentation at the river restoration conference.

Transnational exchange

Changing climate and development is leading to changes in flooding, especially increases in surface water floods across much of Europe.  This requires the development of new, localized approaches to tackle all four elements of MLS which involve communities and manage catchments holistically. Different national culture provides a laboratory to develop alternative approaches.