Assessing the effectiveness of non-structural flood management measures in the Thames Estuary under conditions of socio-economic and environmental change

Richard J. Dawson, Tom Ball, Jonathan Werritty, Alan Werritty, Jim W. Hall, Nicolas Roche

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    142 Citations (Scopus)


    Risk analysis and appraisal of the benefits of structural flood risk management measures such as embankments is well established. Here, a method to quantify, over extended timescales, the effectiveness of non-structural measures such as land use spatial planning, insurance and flood resilient construction is presented. The integrated approach couples socio-economic and climate change scenarios with long term land use modelling and flood risk analysis to generate maps and time series of expected annual damages. The analysis has been applied on a case study in the Thames Estuary in the UK. Stakeholders helped develop a number of scenarios that might lead to substantial changes in existing planning and insurance policies in the UK. The effectiveness of these changes was analysed and showed the substantial benefits in terms of reduction of future flood risks that are achievable with changes in planning policy, financial incentives and resilient property construction in the floodplain. Moreover, the reward can be increased through earlier action. Subsequently, the benefits of a range of policies are explored under the UK Foresight socio-economic scenarios. Different structural and non structural flood management interventions are tested and the results demonstrate that despite the potential for large increases in flood risk in the Thames Estuary, in all scenarios substantial flood risk reductions are possible. The effectiveness of non-structural measures is however sensitive to socio-economic changes and governance arrangements. The analysis described here will help to identify portfolios of nonstructural and structural options that are robust to uncertainties. (C) 2011 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)628-646
    Number of pages19
    JournalGlobal Environmental Change: Human and Policy Dimensions
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - May 2011


    • Flooding
    • Risk analysis
    • Insurance
    • Planning
    • Non-structural measures

    Cite this