Sometimes the most effective approach to tackling flood risk is for groups of householders or businesses in the same location to invest in joint solutions.

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Although the initial outlay can be quite high, such schemes may be eligible for financial assistance from ‘Local Levy’ funding: contact the Regional Flood and Coastal Committee for your area for more information on this.

A number of methods suitable for communities/multiple properties are available, including:

• Mass notification and warning systems (Telemetry alarms)

These are flood level alarm systems, capable of alerting multiple homes and/or businesses (via sirens, or text messages) if a river or stream reaches dangerous levels. Similar systems can detect unusually high rainfall levels, again alerting multiple properties before surface water flooding occurs.

• Temporary and ‘demountable’ barriers

These include: free-standing modular barriers and giant ‘sausages’ that form a dam. An advantage of these is that river views are not permanently blocked, but you need enough people capable of erecting them when needed. A wide variety of such systems are available in the products section.

• Permanent perimeter walls/barriers and gating systems

The most costly option, but often preferred as providing the greatest peace of mind. The most important question to be answered here, however, is: “How high is high enough?”

Expert guidance is essential for all these – as well as information regarding likely water depths and potential duration, factors such as the local geology must also to be taken into account. This is because some soil types allow water to seep through the ground underneath flood walls and gates, rendering them ineffective.

Some permanent structures are also likely to affect the flow patterns of rivers and streams. Such works need special permissions, called ‘Flood Defence Consents’ (in England and Wales) and ‘Controlled Activity Regulations’ (in Scotland). Expert assistance in navigating these complex rules and regulations is advisable.

More information can be found in the Environment Agency’s Flood Plan Guide for Communities and Groups.

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