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CIBSE President: Government must call in flood experts

CIBSE President George Adams has co-signed an open letter to David Cameron, calling on the UK Government to harness the expertise of landscape architects, architects, engineers, hydrologists, ecologists and other specialists to tackle UK flooding.

SIR - As landscape architects, architects, engineers, hydrologists, ecologists and other specialists with the experience necessary to tackle flooding, we would like the Government to be aware that the expertise of our professions is available and, we believe, urgently required.

The expertise of our professions is available and, we believe, urgently required

While we are pleased to hear that the Prime Minister will provide leadership and funding, it is essential that government actions are based on best practice developed over many years.

Water management techniques could have helped prevent the effect of flooding on villages, towns and over surrounding land seen recently. Emergency measures are in order for the immediate crisis. But in the long term, the management of water requires a clear strategy.

We need to look at how forestry, land management and soft-engineered flood alleviation schemes can hold back water in the upper reaches of rivers, and how dredging may assist in the lower reaches.

We need to fit sustainable drainage systems comprehensively for existing buildings and all new buildings. Buildings and land that cannot be properly protected should be made resilient to withstand flooding. All new housing on flood plains must be resilient when built.

Co-operation is needed between the professions, the water companies, internal drainage boards, local authorities, the Environment Agency, and Natural Resources Wales. They must all work with landowners and residents to be effective.

In the Environment Agency are people experienced in addressing these problems, as there are among the members of all our organisations. We need to mobilise that joint expertise.

We are asking David Cameron to convene without delay a cross-departmental conference, including the professions, with the Department of Energy and Climate Change, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, the Department for Communities, the Environment Agency and National Resources Wales, similar to the one convened to address the problem of ash dieback.

S E Illman
President, Landscape Institute

George Adams
President, Chartered Institution of Building Services Engineers

Heather Barrett-Mold
Chair, Institution of Environmental Sciences

Martin Baxter
Executive director - policy, Institute of Environmental Management and Assessment

Shireen Chambers
Chief executive, Institute of Chartered Foresters

Adam Donnan
Chief executive officer, Institution of Environmental Science

Michael Doran
Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors

John Gregory
Institute of Fisheries Management

Sally Hayns
Chief executive officer, Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management

Louise Kingham
Chief executive, Energy Institute

Steve Lee
Chief executive officer, Chartered Institution of Wastes Management

Karen Martin
Chief executive, Arboricultural Association

Dr Peter Spillett
President, Institute of Fisheries Management

Alastair Taylor
Chief Executive, Institution of Agricultural Engineers

Professor William Pope
Chairman, Environmental Policy Forum

Mike Summersgill
President, Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management

Jim Whelan
Council Member, Institution of Environmental Science 

This letter was originally published in the Daily Telegraph.