Friday, 30 November 2012

The Netherlands, flood plains and being prepared.

There was an interesting letter in the Daily Post on Friday, from John Lloyd, Chairman of the Flood Prevention Society.

Most of it repeats their claim that all flooding is the fault of the Environment Agency - whom allegedly don't employ any civil engineers.....and civil engineers as we all know are next to GOD and must be obeyed on all occasions...."If they'd done what the civil engineers wanted there would be no flooding and no mistake".

His final paragraph is thus "Holland is 60% below sea level but not declared a flood plain - it's water courses are maintained by river civil engineers, not bird watchers!"

In the first place I assume he means Netherlands, of which Holland is only a region. And then when he says they have no declared flood plains (not really sure what he means) he must have not read the following from Flood maps in the Netherlands (a pdf file):

...Because of this, Dutch flood protection policy concentrates on prevention against floods, i.e. minimizing the probability of flooding. However, absolute protection is impossible, there will always remain a small chance that strong and impressive protection works fail. The flooding of New Orleans (September 2005) has illustrated the damage and disruption that may occur when large metropolitan areas are flooded. Therefore, in addition to flood prevention, it is crucial to be prepared for flooding as well. This policy is needed to minimize damage, casualties and disruption when the rare disaster becomes reality.

And this from Spiegel Online - Dutch Answer to Flooding: Build Houses that Swim.

Climate patterns today suggest that torrential rainfall is something we can expect plenty more of in the future. This year's floods in the Alps or those along the River Elbe three years ago could well be warning signs of what awaits us. Climatologists predict that precipitation in The Netherlands could increase as much as 25 percent. At the same time, because of the small kingdom's dense population, there is increasing pressure to build in areas prone to flooding. Already, though, the country defies the laws of physics simply by existing: More than a quarter of its land lies below sea level. And, year by year, the land is sinking a little bit lower. The Dutch protect themselves from going under through a network of canals and pumps. It is not only the sea which threatens the mighty barrage on the coast. On the other side lies the Rhine River, which branches out and forms a wide-reaching delta with the Maas. To prevent such huge swaths of land from flooding in summer and winter storms, the Dutch are designating more and more land along their rivers as flood zones. Within the next few decades, the area will compose close to 500,000 hectares -- or about twice the size of the German state of Saarland.

And this from University of Twente ... Last year [2005] in the Netherlands 15 locations were allocated along the Rhine branches where – under strong restrictions - it was allowed to build in floodplains.

So in summary they do have flood plains and protected flood zones in Netherlands, and they recognise that even the best designed and built flood defences may fail, and as such they prepare for such eventualities.

The message should be clear, if your property is within an area prone to flooding, even with flood defences in place, you should always ask yourself what would you do in the worst case scenario, and the property is flooded. Crossing your fingers and hoping for the best ain't an option anymore. There is plenty of advise and guidance on the internet.

Just in case you are thinking of moving to Netherlands you can find out about potential risks by visiting the following website:,  which  "allows you to discover the risks in your area by entering your post code or place of residence. You can see whether there is an increased risk in your area of, for instance, an aviation accident, natural fires or floods and you receive advice about what you must do in such a case."

Or if your not sure if your property is at risk of flooding here in the UK you can visit the Environment Agency website: Am I at risk of flooding?


Anonymous said...

Is there a web-site for the safety and evacuation plan for Wylfa A, B or C?

Anonymous said...

For clarity: the Wylfa Emergency Planning document referenced on the Conwy Council website reportedly *IS* an IoACC document. I meant to say "I couldn't find any reference to it on the IoACC website" (or something like that).

Rhys Williams said...

To anon 12:58 - I remember many years ago (over 20 if not more) our local post office had a manual siren and a secure link that would inform him (the post master) when to raise the alarm if there was a major incident at Wylfa...I think they took it away, and the post office is now closed.
I think it strange that the emergency plan for Wyfa is restricted, where as the people of Portsmouth in case of a accident on a nuclear submarine seem to have much more information see:
I think the current guidance is stay where you are, indoors if you can, and wait for the authorities to distribute iodine tablets.

Anonymous said...

I was told that the iodine supply consists of one bottle held at Amlwch police station ... (but that was 5 years ago)