Sea and flood defence remains one of the most pressing issues facing the nation. As climate change, rising sea levels and a succession of Atlantic storms wreak havoc across our shores; recent years have seen Britain suffer a number of extreme flood events in areas such as Somerset, Cumbria and Yorkshire. In addition, record rainfall and river levels have led to widespread floods severely affecting cities and communities, bringing misery to the lives of thousands and seriously disrupting businesses and local infrastructure.
Unfortunately, this year looks to be no different - latest warnings from the Met Office expect heavy rainfall to hit the UK in the coming months, with some five million properties across the country, or around one in six, currently at risk of flooding1.
As a result, protecting British homes, businesses and infrastructure across the country from the devastating impact of flooding remains one of the most pressing issues facing the government and local authorities – states leading construction materials supplier, Aggregate Industries.
Richard Naylor, Commercial Manager at Aggregate Industries, comments: “The Great British weather has only become more erratic in recent years, with torrential storms and heavy rain frequently causing widespread flooding and misery– and the reality, unfortunately, is that it is likely to get worse.
“As such, it really is vital that authorities take a pre-emptive approach by acting now and reviewing their flood defence strategies early on, making any adjustments or improvements necessary. Not only is this vital to potentially saving lives and reducing the impact as much as possible, but it can work out more economical in the long run – after all, it’s far cheaper to prevent flood damages than rectify them.”
Core to this approach is leveraging the latest construction materials solutions available to aid coastal and flood defence measures – such as the clever use of aggregates. This includes natural rock such as rock armour, rip-rap and gabion which are widely specified by the Environment Agency and consulting engineers for river revetment and diversion contracts. In such situations, natural rock is more harmonious with the environment than steel piling and longer lasting than timber as it forms an effective interlock between blocks and can be achieved on either a coursed or random joint pattern.
Richard Naylor adds: “Historically, natural stone such as rock armour has been used to reinforce riverbanks against the threat of flooding. Key to the success of this strategy is to ensure that, instead of taking a one-size-fits-all approach, the right specification and size of rock is used and more importantly, available before, during and after any extreme weather events.
“At Aggregate Industries, we work with specialist design consultants to help tailor rock armour specifically to meet the challenges of different regions and floodplains. We also ensure that this material is available at a moment’s notice from several quarries across the country so that effective flood defences can be installed when necessary.”