According to Edwards... Horticulture can help mitigate flood risk

The recent wet weather has once again shined the spotlight on the flood risk to new developments.

It seems crazy that development can ever be allowed in areas prone to flooding, but I guess the pressure on development -- and the money involved -- interferes with logical thinking.

There is undoubtedly a great need for land on which new houses can be built and if the economy continues to edge its way in the right direction that will ultimately create a demand for more shops and businesses too.

On the other hand, people rarely want development in their own backyards, so when a plot of land is deemed acceptable for development by the public the pressure is there to see development no matter the difficulties, even if there is a risk of flooding.

It has been reassuring to hear horticulture put forward as a means of mitigating flood risk. The old method of taking storm water, running it into sewer systems or draining it into a water course no longer seems clever. Those systems simply can’t take any more.

What’s now common in much of the rest of the world is starting to be demanded here — a well-designed landscape scheme will employ sustainable urban drainage systems (SUDS) that hold water back and ultimately ensure as much as possible is returned to our limited groundwater resources.

SUDS is just one of many examples of how good landscape design can solve real human problems. But effective designs only get delivered if the landscape element of a development is given the respect it deserves and the share of the budget it requires.

With so much pressure on cutting costs these days, we need every landscape professional to uphold the importance of their profession and demand that it is taken seriously. There is a great opportunity to take landscape design forward as a tool to make a real difference. That only happens when the landscape delivery chain stands up to the pressures to cut budgets.

Tim Edwards is chairman of Boningale Nurseries


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