West Yorkshire Flood Innovation Programme (FLIP)

A collaborative, innovative programme to reduce the impact of flooding and climate change in the region

Five lead Local Flood Authorities West Yorkshire have launched an innovative programme to make the region more resilient to flooding and climate change. The Environment Agency and West Yorkshire Combined Authority are also partners and they have support from local stakeholders including academic partners, community based groups, Third Sector organisations and Yorkshire Water. The West Yorkshire Flood Innovation Programme (WY FLIP) will work at catchment level and across administrative boundaries.

This ambitious programme will explore new ways of working including bringing together people who do not normally work together such as representatives from the private sector, community groups, charities and volunteers with a keen interest in flood resilience. Collaboration is key and representatives outside of the flood risk and environment sectors will be involved including the finance and insurance sector, transport, education, technology and health to ensure a holistic approach and other benefits for our communities.

Learning from the programme will be shared across organisations to help others deliver similar projects successfully across the region, nationally and internationally. iCASP will also provide scientific lead, ensuring the latest research is embedded into new techniques employed across the region and provide an evaluation framework.

WY FLIP has been kick-started with 2 years of funding from the Yorkshire Regional Flood and Coastal Committee to come up with an action plan and work with more partners to attract and lobby for significantly more funding for resilience projects in the region.

The programme has five themes which aim to reduce the impact of both fluvial and groundwater flooding in the region and each local authority will take the lead on one of them. They are :-

Integrated water management solutions – Leeds City Council (promoting the coordinated development and management of water, land, and related resources to maximise the economic and social benefits while minimising impacts on the environment. For example, preventing and decreasing flooding through upland management which would reduce drainage costs downstream and protect ecological systems and enhance quality of life)

Nature based solutions or Natural Flood ManagementCalderdale Metropolitan Borough Council

The use of Natural Flood Management and Nature Based Solutions is still quite limited across the region compared to its potential. This programme will look to drive a scaling up of programmes that include this work, developing solutions and answering questions that currently represent gaps around areas relating to planning, governance and long term funding and management.

Property flood resilience – measures that reduce the risk of flood damage to properties Bradford Metropolitan District Council

This theme will focus on communities that suffer frequent flooding. We will pilot techniques to use property flood resilience (PFR) solutions alongside training, engagement and support across the community to provide long term, sustainable benefits. A number of gaps have been identified and areas where current approaches to PFR installations don’t offer long term success. This theme will look at projects that will work different to offer solutions to these issues.  

Helping the community and voluntary sector to be better prepared and recover more quickly Kirklees Council

The innovation in this theme will see the flood and resilience sectors working more closely to provide a higher standard of community led resilience by providing more support and training to empower communities. It will involve developing and supporting a network of community resilience champions. Work in this theme will focus on challenges related to insurance. We will look to deliver improvements to both awareness and support around mental health in relation to flood and climate risks.  

Enhanced flood warning systemsWakefield Council

This theme will focus on using social media and the latest rainfall and flood forecasting technologies, working with Universities and the Met Office, to make real time information available to incident managers and communities. It will help inform responses to surface water flooding – currently flood warnings and forecasting are focused on river and coastal flooding. We will look to develop new tools and technologies as well as platforms to share this information

There are also four over-arching strands

  • Empowering local communities
  • Developing education and skills across West Yorkshire communities living with floods
  • Transferring knowledge by building on existing partnership and networks, peer to peer support, co-production and developing new innovation
  • Making sure metrics are built into themes such as independent academic monitoring and evaluation of activities and outcomes.

There is no doubt that as a result of climate change we will see more flooding in our region on an even larger scale.  There is an urgent need to protect communities at high risk by developing additional resilience, where traditional hard flood defences, are not viable – either economically or technically – by developing novel solutions that work.

Roadmap to determine a plan of action

Research England has funded the development of a Roadmap which sets out the shared vision, purpose and future direction of the WY FLIP. To realise true innovation and increase resilience we need input from a wide range of partners from a wide range of sectors including: infrastructure, health, finance, transport, planning, education and the community and voluntary sector.

The Roadmap includes priorities, ways of working and milestones and was created collaboratively through consultation with partners. It will be updated regularly to reflect the direction of WY FLIP and make sure it continues to represent the views of partners.

The roadmap, will be used to:  

  • Foster joint understanding and ownership of the aim and purpose of the WY FLIP and its five priority themes  
  • Set out a co-designed, joint vision for actions, milestones and future sustainability of the programme  
  • Identify opportunities, barriers and innovations under each of the five priority themes, including scoping of shovel-ready and flagship projects  
  •  Communicate the joint vision and action plan of the WY FLIP to engage further partners and potential funders.  

Jonathon Moxon, flood risk manager for Leeds City Council explains the need for collaboration with representatives across different industries to help reduce the impact of flooding across Yorkshire.

Lead Partners:

Leeds City Council, Wakefield Council, Calderdale Council, Kirklees Council, City of Bradford Metropolitan Council, the Environment Agency and West Yorkshire Combined Authority.

Programme Team:

Jonathan Moxon, Leeds City Council Flood Risk Manager; Professor Joseph Holden, University of Leeds; Dr Jenny Armstrong, iCASP Impact Translation Fellow, Cath Seal, iCASP Communications Officer.

Programme Spokesperson:

Councillor Dr Jane Scullion, Chair of the West Yorkshire Flood Risk Partnership (also Deputy Leader of Calderdale Council leading on regeneration and strategic issues.

How does WY FLIP operate?

The West Yorkshire FLIP Programme Board has representatives from the five local flood authorities, the Environment Agency and West Yorkshire Combined Authority. It will be chaired by Leeds City Council.

A steering group, made up of representatives across a range of sectors within West Yorkshire including those outside flood risk management, will use their expertise to steer the activities within the programme and implement the West Yorkshire FLIP Roadmap.

The West Yorkshire Flood Risk Partnership will provide a strategic role, linking into the Yorkshire Regional Flood and Coastal Committee and Catchment Partnerships.

Duration: January 2022 – January 2028

Project Updates: