Research: Environment News – UK Floods

For this post, I decided highlight various news stories relating to the recent severity of flooding in the UK. During my research, I noted that there various warning signs for potential flooding which has increased with extremity over the last month. Much of this has been highlighted to be the consequences of poor water maintenance and management such as the over abstraction of freshwater from lakes, rivers and reservoirs and the pollution of such areas from waste water resulting from the cost cutting and financial interests of UK government and water companies e.g. water bill. With this, disruption of healthy water flow has resulted in high tides and increased potential flooding.

The response has been significant, the situation has incited a great deal of media interest, many people calling for better measures for better management of water for flood prevention. As a result, a shared interest water sustainability has become even more relevant as a cultural priority. There is also scope in the aftermath of such situation for discussion within this narrative. This demonstration of overwhelming natural forces, reflects almost a retaliation for human neglect, a demonstration of the true power and force of water. This is especially represented in coastal areas recently, strong winds and high tides has resulted in various injuries, deaths and the destruction of people’s houses and businesses. It gives us a sense of the consequences of human growth and expansion and the influences this is having upon various aspects of freshwater sources.

Flood waters recede after winds and high tides batter Cumbria

Residents in Walney have been campaigning for flood defences for the past eight years.

Water levels have begun to recede after strong winds and high tides battered Cumbria’s coastline.

Police said flooding had caused problems across the county with around 20 roads affected during the course of the day.

Officers said some motorists were trying to use flooded routes, causing additional problems for the emergency services.

On the railway, trains between Carlisle and Barrow-in-Furness were cancelled.

Northern Rail said they were not expected to resume on Friday and added replacement road transport would not be provided for travellers.

Elsewhere, there were reports of people crossing the live railway at Grange because the underpass was flooded.

Kirkby-in-Furness station was under water too.

The rail line at Siddick in west Cumbria
Engineers were called to the rail line at Siddick in west Cumbria

By 16:00 GMT the viaduct area of Workington had reopened as had parts of Whitehaven Harbour.

In Maryport, people were asked to leave the marina after putting themselves at risk by taking photographs.

And people living at West Shore Park on Walney say the wall protecting the park was destroyed by the water, leaving the park vulnerable to further flooding.

Six people were evacuated and fire crews pumped water from the site but no water got inside the buildings.

High tides likely to bring more floods, Environment Agency warns

Flood warnings remain in place despite brief lull in stormy weather, which is expected to worsen again on Sunday
The Environment Agency has warned that Saturday afternoon high tides will bring a further risk of flooding despite an improvement in conditions.

The agency said there were four severe flood warnings in place, three on the river Severn and one on the Lower Stour at Iford in Kent. There were a further 97 flood warnings and 244 flood alerts in place. The agency has removed 175 warnings or alerts in the past 24 hours.

The Met Office has issued yellow warnings of rain in the south of England and snow in the north of England and southern parts of Scotland. Up to 3cm of rain could fall in just six hours, and there are more warnings of flooding and travel disruption.

Residents in Chiswell and Portland in Weymouth, Dorset, were evacuated ahead of high tide on Friday night, while around 100 people living in Aberystwyth, Dyfed, were advised to move to higher ground, with many taking shelter in rest centres.

The ferocious weather has left widespread damage. In Aberystwyth debris was strewn across the promenade, rail lines in north Wales were left buckled by the power of the sea and a road collapsed in Amroth, Pembrokeshire.

Police continued the search for Henry Martin, 18, who has not been seen since he left his home in Membland, Newton Ferrers, near Plymouth, Devon, to take pictures of the weather on Thursday. Air, sea and land searches were undertaken. Martin had recently started a course in film and TV production at Greenwich University in London but was back home visiting his family for Christmas.

On Saturday, the Port of Dover said ships in the Channel were facing gale force five winds, which were leading to some delays. A spokesman said: “Due to adverse weather conditions the terminal is experiencing slight delays to shipping movements. Passengers are advised to contact their shipping operator for further information.”

The Met Office is forecasting some respite on Saturday from some of the wettest and windiest weather in decades which, as well as widespread flooding, has caused power cuts and travel disruption.

In Scotland, “be aware” weather warnings have been issued for the Strathclyde, Tayside, Fife, south-west Scotland, Lothian & Borders and central regions. The warning also covers Northern Ireland and parts of the north of England. Existing yellow warnings for wind and rain across much of the country remained in place.

Another depression due to blow in from the Atlantic on Sunday could bring winds of up to 50mph rather than the gusts of up to 75mph that struck the UK on Friday.

Helen Chivers, head of news at the Met Office, said that “might be the last really big storm for a little while”. Some unsettled weather would follow but was more likely to be of the sunshine and showers variety than the hatch-battening events that forced yet more mopping up after a combination of high spring tides, high winds and low pressure.

A check on wind speeds suggests December provided the stormiest end to the year since 1969 and one of the windiest months since January 1993. In Scotland, it was the wettest month in records dating back to 1910.

Appeals to the public not to walk on coastal paths and promenades and near flood water failed to deter storm-watchers in some parts of the country. A man was seen swimming in the flooded river Nith between Dumfries and Kingholm Quay, and Carmarthenshire council called in the police to move on sightseers at Burry Port, south-west Wales.

The coastal town, which sits on a tidal estuary, was lashed by huge waves and winds of more than 70mph during the morning high tide. “What they cannot know is what is in these waves. The sea takes up a lot of rock, rubble and stones and throws them violently about,” a council spokesman said. “Stones weighing up to one hundredweight were being flung into the car park and people were literally putting their lives at risk by being there.”

As towns and villages across the country were inundated by sea and river flooding, a pregnant woman in Cardigan was among people rescued from homes by firefighters. In Pwllheli, north Wales, the lifeboat crew helped the fire and rescue service move five people from a flooded caravan park.

In Aberystwyth Millie Farmer, 19, a second-year undergraduate at the town’s university, said the main beach had been destroyed and residents evacuated from seafront properties. She said she had watched six-foot waves crash on to the shore from the third floor of the university library which is built on a hill above the town.

“I didn’t exactly expect weather like this when I chose to come Aberystwyth but it’s certainly an interesting place to be a geography student,” said Farmer, from Shepreth, Cambridgeshire.

Sandbags are being handed out again to thousands of residents in east Belfast as the city prepares for a fresh round of flooding. Emergency measures have been put in place as the Met Office predicts more heavy rain and strong winds to batter eastern parts of Northern Ireland on Sunday and Monday.

Merseyside braced for more floods as snow and ice warnings issued as well

4 Jan 2014 18:02

Met Office looking out for winter weather

New Brighton Promenade takes a battering
New Brighton Promenade takes a battering

Merseyside could be hit by more coastal flooding tomorrow, forecasters have warned.

The Environment Agency has issued a flood alert for both sides of the Mersey Estuary from Liverpool to Warrington.

It says its “flood alert” status means that flooding is possible.

The flood alert is in force for the high tide at 1.49pm, with the tide height forecast to be 5.17mAOD at Gladstone Dock in Liverpool.

Video: See the high-tide flooding

The Environment Agency said places most likely to be affected were Fiddler’s Ferry at 2.45pm, Eastford Road at 3pm and Arpley Bridge, Warrington at 3.15pm.

As of 3pm on Saturday, a warning was no longer in place for the coast from Formby to Crosby or Wirral from New Brighton to Hoylake and along the Dee Estuary up to Chester.

The Met Office has issued yellow warnings for snow and ice in the North West tomorrow, but said there was still “considerable uncertainty regarding the extent of any snow”.

It says that icy patches could develop on untreated surfaces as temperatures drop overnight.

In Scotland, the A75 in Dumfriesshire was closed for several hours after a lorry overturned in strong winds, and the A78 between Largs and Skelmorlie was closed by flooding. The Skye, Tay and Forth road bridges were barred to high-sided vehicles and speed restrictions put in place for other traffic.

Owen Paterson, the environment secretary, is under pressure over job losses in roles connected to floods at the Environment Agency for England and Wales. He insisted “frontline services” would be protected, but Paul Leinster, chief executive of the agency, has admitted some roles in flood risk management are likely to go as part of 1,500 job losses.

4 January 2014 Last updated at 00:00

Flooding continues to threaten UK

Flooded River Severn in Gloucestershire from the air

High tides and strong winds have brought flooding to Wales, Scotland and western England as officials warn of a continuing threat in parts of the UK.

There are four severe flood warnings – meaning “danger to life” – for Gloucestershire and Dorset.

Residents in parts of Dorset and Aberystwyth were evacuated from their homes ahead of high tide on Friday night, which has now passed.

A tidal surge caused flooding in western and southern Scotland.

About 100 people took shelter for high tide at a school in Aberystwyth and a community centre eight miles (13km) away in Borth, where waves peaked at up to 6ft (1.8m).

In Northern Ireland, high tides and strong winds caused some flooding in coastal areas but the tide peaked without any major flooding in Belfast.

There were high tides and flooding in streets in Devon and Cornwall, but Tom Mansell, of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI), said: “There has been flooding in places like Looe, Kingsbridge and Salcombe, but it is not as bad as we had been expecting,” he said.

Mr Mansell reiterated messages from the emergency services and the Environment Agency that the biggest danger was from people going to the coast to look at the sea.

“They don’t understand how dangerous the sea can be,” he said. “We would say ‘please, please keep away from this water’.”

Meanwhile, Environment Secretary Owen Paterson has said the Environment Agency will protect front-line flood defence services despite the agency confirming hundreds of job cuts.

About 1,500 jobs will be lost at the agency although it is not clear how many flood-related posts will go.

A Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs spokesman said that while it was spending £2.3bn tackling the risk of flooding and coastal erosion, the agency was making its own choices about “how best to use their resources”.

Emergency meeting

The Environment Agency has issued more than 300 lower-level flood alerts and warnings across England and Wales.

Flood warnings map 3 January 16:30

The severe flood warnings relate to areas in Dorset, the River Severn in Gloucestershire and coastal areas of Wales.

Harry MartinHarry Martin, 18, went missing in Devon

The Met Office has warned of rain and wind in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Environment Secretary Owen Paterson chaired the government’s emergencies committee Cobra to discuss the weather situation.

The hour-long meeting was told 3,500km (2,170 miles) of coastal flood defences had been tested by Thursday night’s storms and 130,000 homes had been protected.

Prime Minister David Cameron tweeted he was ensuring that flood help was fully in place.

In other developments:

  • Residents of Chiswell and Portland, inDorset, evacuated their homes ahead of the high tide there at 22:00 GMT
  • Police have named a missing teenager in Devon as 18-year-old Harry Martin, who was last seen in Membland, Newton Ferrers, on Thursday, walking towards a coastal path. It is believed he was in search of weather-related photos
  • About 30 properties were flooded in Cardigan, where a pregnant woman was rescued
  • Four families had to be evacuated from their homes in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, after lightning struck a block of flats
  • The Thames Barrier was reopened at about 16:00 GMT after being closed earlier in the afternoon for high tide
  • Bristol City Council has put in place its flood barrier kit for the first time, along Avon Crescent where it meets the Cumberland Basin
  • The River Severn burst its banks at Minsterworth, in Gloucestershire
  • The Scottish Environment Protection Agency has issued more than 20 flood warnings, but none of them is “severe”

BBC Weather’s John Hammond takes a look at the source of our stormy weather which lies in huge North American temperature differences

Dorset, England The combination of strong winds from an Atlantic depression and high tides led to dramatic waves
AberystwythWest Wales, as seen here in Aberystwyth, is being battered by the Irish Sea

Student Thomas Rule filmed this video of flooding in his flat – and Aberystwyth seafront

The latest band of wind and rain comes after thousands of homes suffered power cuts, with some cut off for several days, and many properties were flooded following bad weather during the Christmas period.

Scottish and Southern Energy Power Distribution have announced compensation arrangements for those affected by power cuts over Christmas.

“We are extending our goodwill payments so that any customer who was without electricity for any time on Christmas Day, regardless of the duration of the power cut, will be guaranteed £75,” the company said.

UK weather: flooding and storms across the country – in pictures

Rain and strong winds batter the UK, with 21 severe flood warnings issued for high tides around the coastline

• Follow the latest news on the extreme weather in our live blog

A man rowing down a flooded street in Salcombe, Devon.
A man rows down a flooded street in Salcombe, Devon. Photograph: RNLI/Salcombe/PA
As dawn breaks huge waves crash against the promenade wall in Porthcawl, south Wales.
As dawn breaks huge waves crash against the promenade wall in Porthcawl, south Wales. Photograph: Dimitris Legakis/EPA
A cyclist gets a soaking on the seafront at West Bay in Dorset.
A cyclist gets a soaking on the seafront at West Bay in Dorset. Photograph: Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images
A police vehicle checks a broken barrier along the swollen river Mole in Leatherhead, Surrey.
A police vehicle checks a broken barrier along the swollen river Mole in Leatherhead, Surrey. Photograph: Andy Rain/EPA
High seas batter the Cobb at Lyme Regis, Dorset.
High seas batter the Cobb at Lyme Regis, Dorset. Photograph: Steve Roberts/
People look at the high tide flood water that still remains on the seafront at Lynmouth in North Devon, England.
People look at the high tide floodwater that still remains on the seafront at Lynmouth in north Devon. Photograph: Matt Cardy/Getty Images
Waves crash over Ardrossan harbour lighthouse in Ardrossan, Scotland.
Waves crash over Ardrossan harbour lighthouse in Ardrossan, Scotland. Photograph: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images
Sandbags line a river bank in Leatherhead, Surrey
Sandbags line a riverbank in Leatherhead, Surrey. Photograph: Andy Rain/EPA
A wave breaks over the seafront at dawn in West Bay during stormy weather in Dorset.
A wave breaks over the seafront at dawn in West Bay, Dorset. Photograph: Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images
Waves break over Saltcoats esplanade in Saltcoats, Scotland. Gale force winds and an expected tidal surge are set to cause widespread flooding in coastal areas of Scotland.
Waves break over Saltcoats Esplanade in Saltcoats, Scotland. Gale force winds and an expected tidal surge are set to cause wide spread flooding in coastal areas of Scotland. Photograph: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images
Waves crash over Blackpool seafront. toppix
Waves crash over Blackpool seafront. Photograph: Nigel Roddis/Getty Images
A 5.6m high springtide and gale force south westerly winds cause massive waves to pound against the promenade and harbour in Aberystwyth, Wales. The entire promenade was closed to traffic by 8am due to safety fears.
A 5.6m high springtide and gale force south-westerly winds cause massive waves to pound against the promenade and harbour in Aberystwyth, Wales. The entire promenade was closed to traffic by 8am due to safety fears. Photograph: Keith Morris/Barcroft Media
The coastal village of Sandside, Cumbria which has been hit by rising water as the high tide arrives, bringing rescue workers and coatstguards into action making sure everyone is safe.
The coastal village of Sandside, Cumbria which has been hit by rising water as the high tide arrives. Photograph: Paul Kingston/North News & Pictures


Living With Environmental Change’s first UK Flood and Coastal Erosion Risk Management Research Strategy was published in Jan 2012. It is available to download below.

The Steering Group, set up to facilitate implementation of the R&D Strategy, has carried out a mapping exercise to provide an at-a-glance overview for research funders and users of research relating to the three thematic areas of Understanding Risk, Managing Probability and Managing Consequence.  The exercise has allowed us to identify which of the topics are being actively worked on as well as identifying topics within the strategy that are not currently being researched. We have also been able to ask for views on emerging research priorities.

The maps have been developed based on information which has been supplemented by information from the Steering Group members. We shared the draft maps with delegates attending the November 2012 Living With Environmental Change Annual Event, providing an opportunity for feedback. We have included these suggestions in the maps and will be working over the coming months to incorporate information from wider research programmes of relevance to FCERM research. If you wish to share further feedback or suggestions on the maps, please contact

The Steering Group, which consists of the main flooding research funding organisations, also facilitates collaboration on future research projects and strengthens the exchange of knowledge between researchers and practitioners. See for example, the EPSRC sandpit event which contributed to the direction of £4 million of new investment in flood research.

The Steering Group will review progress on delivering the strategy and will use feedback from research and practitioner groups to update the strategy at appropriate points.

I intend to continue to stay updated on the situation and potentially arrange test shoots prior to starting point of my fmp. I will consider this in relation to my collective of potential directions for this series.

Of the various examples listed, I am likely to focus upon Cumbria and relate this to other previously considered locations around Mersey and Greater Manchester, looking for connecting waters and the massive water supply that reservoirs, lakes and weirs provide to Manchester and Liverpool from the lake district. I will reflect upon this and consider potential ideas for my intended narrative structure.


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