Centre of Excellence to deliver flood and coastal erosion risk management

On 1 September, BCP Council’s Cabinet unanimously approved the establishment of a Flood and Coastal Erosion Risk Management (FCERM) Centre of Excellence. It will provide an effective and coordinated approach to help prepare and protect residents and communities across the BCP area from the significant challenges created by the climate crisis. The Centre of Excellence will also support and deliver FCERM initiatives and projects for other authorities across the South West region.

Over the past couple of years, a Dorset wide FCERM partnership, hosted by BCP Council, has been in place and has seen a wide range of projects being planned, attracting funding and being delivered in-house.

Councillor Mark Anderson, Portfolio Holder for Environment, Cleansing and Waste, said: “The formation of an independent FCERM Centre of Excellence will build on the partnership model and the growing reputation of the high calibre managerial and technical expertise within the team. It also gives confidence to our funding partners who support our project delivery, and this has resulted in requests for collaborative support from other authorities, such as Devon, Cornwall, New Forest and the Environment Agency, as well as Dorset.

“Moving forward, the slight change to our operating model will allow us to continue delivering more projects, making best use of the nationally available Flood Defence Grant in Aid, thereby growing team resources and skills. This means we can deliver a higher quality of service, able to address the increasing risk from climate change including sea level rise and more frequent extreme storm events and all at no additional cost to the council.”

As well as designing and delivering large government funded projects, the main functions of the Centre of Excellence will be to set long term strategies for managing flood and coastal risk, maintaining FCERM assets and influencing the industry through sound research and innovative techniques.

The work being carried out by the Centre of Excellence supports BCP Council’s wider Corporate Strategy by meeting one of our key objectives to help protect and enhance our natural environment.

The Environment Agency, who provide the strategic overview for delivery of flood and coastal projects and allocation of flood defence grant in aid funding, strongly support the direction of the Centre of Excellence and have recognised the fantastic achievements to date, demonstrating the reputation that has built with funding partners. In the BCP area alone, during the pandemic, coast protection projects which received funding or were delivered include:

  • Renourishing seven depleted beach areas from Southbourne to Poole in a £7.5million scheme which saw 350,000m³ of sand and beach material being pumped ashore.
  • Renewing four timber groynes last winter as part of a two-year, £1.9 million programme for eight timber groynes from the boundary of Poole/Bournemouth. Year 2 starts in October 2021 from Middle Chine to the West Cliff zig-zag path.
  • The £2.5m cliff stabilisation scheme at Canford Cliffs following a cliff slip in 2017.
  • £12.4m funding for new defences along Back Water Channel to help protect Poole Town Centre and the Old Town from tidal flooding.
  • £450k for the development of the Christchurch Bay and Harbour Strategy which could lead to millions in project delivery.

More details of all flood and coastal projects and future schemes can be found here.

Posted on Tuesday 14 September 2021