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You are in: Lincolnshire » A Sense Of Place » Places

Flood banner.
Flood defence - then and now

Early times
Flood defence goes back a long way. Nearly 2000 years ago, the Romans carried out major river and coastal defence works.
17th Century
Early defences were built for the benefits of individuals, large landowners or investment groups - the "adventurers" of 17th century fen drainage
18th Century
Many towns and agricultural lands defended. Funding for defences were levied on those who benefitted ie. landowners, the church. It was a bit disorganised though and floods were often caused by neglect of maintenance of defences.
The first in a series of Land Drainage Acts was passed. Although the Act established Land Drainage Boards, it failed to rationalise systems, leaving authority with Sewer Commissioners. There were close to 300 by the turn of the century.
The Royal Commission on Coastal Erosion called for a more modern system of coastal defence. In its final report in 1911, the Commission agreed the administrative system was in chaos and called for a central authority. No action was taken though and sea defences continued to be organised on piecemeal and arbitrary lines.
The Land Drainage Board Act of 1920 created local land drainage boards.
Land Drainage Act of 1930 - resulting largely from the devastating floods of January 1928 - recognised the wider benefits of flood defence to the community and the nation. It aimed to improve the financial net and make central funds available. The Act also recognised the importance of monitoring actions of the various authorities and created Catchment Boards with a general duty to oversee all flood defence matters. The intentions were good but in reality little was done for the coast. Chaos reigned and dual responsibility with Land Drainage Boards meant little was achieved.
The Environment Agency was formed taking on all NRA responsibilities including flood defence, within a wider environmental remit to protect air, land and water. Their work would include: assessing flood risk, advising planning authorities and developers in order to avoid development pressure in flood risk, investment in flood defence, flood warning and public awareness.
The government commissions a review of flood and coastal defence funding mechanisms as an outcome of Spending Review 2000. SR2000 identified a possible need for more funds to maintain current levels of protection and meet the needs of eg. climate change. The Review also addresses the need for any changes to institutional arrangements.

For more information visit the Environment Agency website >>

See also | Witness - 1953 floods | Flood facts | Useful links | Flood advice | After a flood | Pictures of the flooding

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