This paper discusses whether flood hazard in the UK is increasing and considers issues of flood risk management. Urban development is known to increase fluvial flood frequency, hence design measures are routinely implemented to minimize the impact. Studies suggest that historical effects, while potentially large at small scale, are not significant for large river basins. Storm water flooding within the urban environment is an area where flood hazard is inadequately defined; new methods are needed to assess and manage flood risk. Development on flood plains has led to major capital expenditure on flood protection, but government is attempting to strengthen the planning role of the environmental regulator to prevent this. Rural land use management has intensified significantly over the past 30 years, leading to concerns that flood risk has increased, at least at local scale; the implications for catchment-scale flooding are unclear. New research is addressing this issue, and more broadly, the role of land management in reducing flood risk. Climate change impacts on flooding and current guidelines for UK practice are reviewed. Large uncertainties remain, not least for the occurrence of extreme precipitation, but precautionary guidance is in place. Finally, current levels of flood protection are discussed. Reassessment of flood hazard has led to targets for increased flood protection, but despite important developments to communicate flood risk to the public, much remains to be done to increase public awareness of flood hazard.
One contribution of 20 to a Discussion Meeting Issue ‘Extreme natural hazards’.
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