For the real villages and towns in Sussex that suffer from flooding - be that from the river or from over ground surface water flooding - these questions are extremely pertinent. Often the answers are complex and take time to be answered, and remedied. It is often local people that help find the answers. In Uckfield the Flood Forum formed of local residents and council reps was formative in helping to create our project, as it was clear that other solutions like a dam would not solve local flooding.
There are many reasons why flooding can be so severe. The magnitude of the rainfall event and preceding weather conditions play a significant part in flood development, but land cover, use and land management upstream can heavily influence the size and velocity of flooding too. Climate change is also likely to lead to an increase in the frequency and magnitude of extreme floods, which will put great strain on our flood defence infrastructure. We need to maximise opportunities to reduce, retain and slow water flow where we can to help reduce the volume and speed of water travelling downstream, and reduce stress on our flood defences.
Natural Flood Management seeks to create a landscape that is more resilient to surface water and river flooding, and uses an approach that works with nature not against it. It offers a wide range of techniques that can be tailored to the location, designed to slow and store water upstream. This could be by planting hedgerows to reduce and slow surface water flowing down grassy hillsides; planting woodland on the floodplain to delay the passage of flood water; creating temporary water storage on washland meadows, or by creating storage ponds, bunds and scrapes to retain water. This approach has many other benefits for the wider landscape, wildlife and people, and is much cheaper than increasing hard flood defence structures.
Through the TrUck project and our new expanded Ouse project, Sussex Flow Initiative, we are working with landowners to help them make small scale changes that will help create a more resilient landscape. Other national projects like Slowing the Flow at Pickering, and work at Belford are already showing good results.
I will be interested to hear how this story develops in Ambridge. If they decide that speeding up water passage out to the sea and increasing man made flood defences is the best way to proceed I may have to turn down the dial. Perhaps the script writers have picked up on the Natural Flood Management approach and incorporate this as one of the things that could help their notional village. I would be happy to make a site visit to outline their options.
I suspect the cause will lead back to Charlie's culverts however. In real life it isn't that easy.