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. They have support from the Environment Agency and local stakeholders including academic partners, community based groups, Third Sector organisations and Yorkshire Water. The West Yorkshire Flood Innovation Programme (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.

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 – (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)

  • Innovation will come from working across organisations and pooling data, funding, resources and technologies to solve surface water flooding problems. We will focus on the solutions rather the source of the flooding and work across a range of disciplines, such as highways and other forms infrastructure    
  • At this stage we are proposing to develop new techniques that manage surface water flooding from a range of sources by using deep boreholes to create large and effective soakaways in areas where traditional shallow soakaways don’t work. Sustainable Drainage Systems (SuDS) will form a key part of this theme, this programme will look to drive progress to these becoming much more mainstream and widespread. 
  • Nature based solutions or Natural Flood Management

    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

    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

    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 systems

    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.

    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 and City of Bradford Metropolitan Council.

    Programme Team:

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

    Programme Spokesperson:

    Councillor Dr Jane Scullion, chair of the West Yorkshire Flood Risk Partnership,  

    The West Yorkshire FLIP Programme Board is being set up with representatives from the five local flood authorities and others and will be chaired by Leeds City Council. 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


    Press release – 22 November 2021, Innovative action plan gets funding to reduce the impact of flooding across West Yorkshire