*THIS OPPORTUNITY HAS NOW CLOSED*
The Water, Flood and Coal Tips Safety Division of Welsh Government is seeking a PhD student for a placement opportunity within one of its teams.
Flood and Coastal Erosion Risk Management (FCERM) is a politically high-profile area that delivers significant benefits across Wales. Flooding and coastal erosion are two of the biggest natural hazards affecting Welsh communities. The FCERM team helps to raise awareness, build resilience and reduce the consequences of those risks.
Wales will, in future, see more flooding as climate change takes effect. 20 years ago, UK administrations’ approach to flood risk management was “defence” orientated. This approach was typified by interventions such as embankments, flood walls and dredging. Over time, the negative side effects of such practices, such as the ecological impacts and the effect of “passing the flood risk downstream”, have become better understood. In recent years, the increasing risks associated with climate change has prompted UK administrations to shift towards a more flexible “Risk Management” approach, where Risk Management Authorities adopt more innovative ways to reduce the consequences of flooding.
One of the key measures we will use to manage the risk associated with flooding is Property Flood Resilience (PFR). PFR refers to a broad pallet of interventions which help to stop the ingress of floodwater into a property, or aid rapid recovery following a flood event. “Resistance” measures such as flood gates and air brick covers reduce the likelihood and consequence of internal flooding. “Recoverability” measures such as hard flooring, raised sockets and sumps significantly reduce clean up times.
Political interest in PFR has increased significantly since the February storms of 2020. Thousands of homes in Wales were flooded, leading to calls for ‘flood gates’ to be made readily available to all properties throughout Wales. Opinions on PFR vary, with some seeing it as a panacea for all flood risk, while others consider it a less effective substitute for more traditional engineering. As such, the Welsh Government’s PFR policy has been under increased scrutiny.
Purpose of post
The student will be required to gather evidence and deliver a SWOT (Strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) analysis of Wales’ PFR policy. An objective analysis of the current policy will help guide how Risk Management Authorities in Wales utilise PFR measures in the future.
PFR policy in England and Wales has started to diverge. In England, PFR measures installed by Risk Management Authorities must be demonstrated to be a cost-effective, long term solution to reduce flood risk to communities. In Wales, PFR can be installed on properties as an interim measure, prior to the development of a formal scheme, without adversely impacting the economic viability of a formal scheme.
In England, flooded homeowners can claim a £5k grant towards the cost of installing property flood resilience measures at their home. In Wales, funding is only available to Risk Management Authorities (Local Authorities and Natural Resources Wales), who are expected to deliver schemes which benefit whole communities, rather than just homes which apply for grant.
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