Preparing for Floods
Pembrokeshire South East Energy Group were delighted to welcome Richard Wickes, Flood Risk Mapping and Data Management Team Leader at the Environment Agency, to their February meeting.
Demonstrating a high level of technical expertise Richard explained how flood risk maps were produced and their huge improvement in accuracy in recent years.
Only a few years ago the maps were produced with a +/- accuracy of one metre. Recent flooding events had shown the limitation of this level of accuracy, particularly when the area at risk was a level flood plain.
More recently maps were being produced using the LIDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) system. This involves using aircraft to fly over the risk area, bouncing laser beams off the land and creating a very accurate map. The degree of accuracy is now +/- 250mm – a huge improvement. Areas at risk and the nature of the flow of water over these areas are now far more clearly represented. Most river valleys and the coastline have now been mapped in this way.
This has led to new hydrolic models of risk areas being developed. Some, for lower risk area are one dimensional whilst others, in high risk areas are two dimensional. The latter include features such as buildings and trees and give a better picture of the flow of flood water. This helps to determine where flood defenses can best be sited and allows for planned systematic evacuation of properties when flooding occurs.
The Environment Agency now produces a National Flood Risk Assessment which looks at the probability of a flood event. Three levels of risk are shown - significant 1 in 75 years, moderate 1 in 75 years to 1 in 200 years and low over 1 in 200 years. Sadly houses are still being built against the advice of the Environment Agency in flood risk areas.
In answer to questions Richard explained that the current maps do not include the additional threat of sea level rises, predicted by Defra to be 1 metre over the next 100 years. However the Welsh Assembly Government has produced such maps and the information is available under Freedom of Information requests. Solicitors and insurance companies can and do access this information.
Richard Wickes was warmly thanked by the chair for giving such an informative and professional insight into his work within the Environment Agency.
The meeting continued with a report on the Group's recent Question Time event. With an attendance of approximately ninety and many thoughtful questions from the audience, the event was deemed a most worthwhile experience.
Details of the recent meeting of the steering group for PSEEG's renewable energy were then detailed. It was now confidently anticipated that Dulas would complete their part of the pre-planning work by the end of the month. Authorisation was given to set up and register a new company for the project if this was found to be necessary.
Advanced notice was given of the next meeting of the Group on the 17th March when a speaker from the wind turbine manufacturer Quiet Revolution would be attending.
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