Heriot-Watt research flows directly to UK flood mitigation inquiry

Dr David A Kelly, Assistant Professor within the Centre of Excellence in Sustainable Building Design, was invited to give oral evidence to the All Party Parliamentary Group for Excellence in the Built Environment (APPGEBE) at the Houses of Parliament on Monday 24 November.

The APPGEBE inquiry into flood mitigation and resilience was seeking recommendations for action to tackle the on-going flood problems across the UK.

Focusing on flood resilience at the property level, Dr Kelly outlined a set of recommendations calling for a vital overhaul of the design methodology used currently for property rainwater drainage systems. Dr Kelly said: "With climate projections indicating that future rainfall is likely to increase in frequency and intensity, property rainwater drainage systems designed to cope with current rainfall intensities could become overwhelmed in the future (if they are not already) due to increased rain volumes. In this case, every property in the country could be vulnerable to increased flood risk or water damage."

The recommendations

The recommendations made to the inquiry include:

  • Embed climate projection data within design standards to ensure that rainwater drainage systems are designed to cope with future rainfall patterns
  • Rationalise the multiple standards that currently cover the design of property rainwater drainage systems into a single code in order to avoid the current disjoined design approach
  • Encourage computer-based system design using numerical simulation to enable whole system flow analysis and informed decision-making for system resilience
  • Ensure that Government provides the necessary incentives and policy changes needed to drive these recommendations forward and to update current design approaches to ensure property rainwater drainage systems are not only resilient to current and future rainfall, but that they actively support flood mitigation strategies

Dr Kelly's recommendations were based on the findings of the EPSRC-funded DOWNPIPE project which applied probabilistic climate projections to adaptation decision-making for property rainwater drainage systems which was led by Professor Lynne Jack.