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Flooding and Coastal Change

Most RYA clubs and training centres are near water in the form of rivers, estuaries, lakes or the sea. Clubs are at risk of flooding from these waterbodies, and from other sources such as surface water, sewers and groundwater flooding.

Environment Agency Flood Alert Areas

Flood risk has been highlighted as one of the greatest direct climate change-related threats for the UK, with an increase in flooding and wet winters in recent years1. In mid-latitude regions, mean precipitation is likely to increase and extreme precipitation events to become more frequent and intense2. Wet-weather records have been more frequent since 20003, the duration and intensity of strong winter storms is thought to have increased since 18714 , and there have been more heavy daily rain events in the last decade than any other decade since the 1960s5. Flooding during the winter of 2013/2014 accompanied the “wettest winter in the UK’s observational records, and the stormiest period of weather experienced for at least 20 years”6. The National Flood Resilience Review5 concluded it is “likely that there will be one or more record rainfall events in the coming decade that could lead to large-scale accumulations and potentially flooding.” 

Sea-level along the English Channel has already risen by about 12 cm during the 20th century7, elevating the risk of coastal flooding during a storm surge event5. Projected rises in sea level of 50-100 cm by 2100 are likely to exacerbate flood risk further and accelerate coastal change for exposed communities1. Mean sea level rise has likely caused an increase in extreme sea level events such as storm surges since 19702

The risk of flooding to properties and clubs is therefore increasing, and it is important to take measures to prepare for such events. You can find out whether your property of club is at risk of flooding, with further information available from the Flood Guidance website. Small but effective steps can be taken to help protect against potential flood events and reduce the amount of time it takes to get back on the water. Guides are available from the Environment Agency to prepare properties and businesses for flooding, and flood plan guidance is available from Sport England, the Environment Agency, and the Flood Guidance website. Advice is also available on what to do if you are at immediate risk from flooding. The Government flood information service is a useful starting point for finding out current flood information.

To help clubs understand the risks from flooding and the steps they can take to be prepared for flooding, the RYA has produced a briefing note on Flood Risk Management, which you can download from the section at the top right of this page. This outlines types of flooding, provides guidance on preparing for flooding, what to do during and immediately after a flood, and information on longer-term flood recovery, including links to relevant flood maps, flood warning services, and help in creating flood plans.

Information is available from the Environment Agency on their programme of flood and coastal erosion risk management schemes, local schemes and strategies to manage flood and coastal erosion risk in England, and River and coastal maintenance programmes. You can check their map for locations of coastal erosion defences and shoreline management practices. Shoreline Management Plans, developed by Coastal Groups describe how your stretch of shoreline is most likely to be managed to address flooding and erosion. Flood Risk Management Plans set out how Risk Management Authorities work together with communities to manage flood risk, covering flooding from main rivers, the sea and reservoirs. 

If you have any questions then please get in touch with us at

[1] Committee on Climate Change, 2016. UK Climate Change Risk Assessment 2017 Synthesis Report. 

[2] IPCC. Summary for Policymakers. Climate Change 2014: Synthesis Report. Contribution of Working Groups I, II and III to the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (2014). doi:10.1017/CBO9781107415324

[3] Kendon, M. Has there been a recent increase in UK weather records? Weather 69, 327–332 (2014).

[4] Wang, X. L. et al. Trends and low frequency variability of extra-tropical cyclone activity in the ensemble of twentieth century reanalysis. Clim. Dyn. 40, 2775–2800 (2013).;

[5] HM Government, 2016. National Flood Resilience Review.

[6] Kendon, M. The UK wet and stormy winter of 2013/2014. Weather 70, 39–40 (2015).

[7] Wahl, T. et al. Observed mean sea level changes around the North Sea coastline from 1800 to present. Earth-Science Rev. 124, 51–67 (2013).

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