A competition which sought to find innovative ways to tackle flooding focusing on the Eden catchment in Cumbria, and which saw experts across the world, using 13,000 datasets released by Defra, including river flow and levels and historic rainfall patterns from the Met Office, taking part.

Top prize was recently awarded to Jeremy Benn Associates and Lancaster University, and the winning entries will be used to aid development of the Cumbrian Pioneer Project, one of four new trailblazing projects the government will be launching as part of its 25 Year Plan for the Environment.

Thérèse Coffey, Floods Minister, congratulated all the winners and thanked them for taking part, saying:

This competition has been a fantastic opportunity to benefit from the wisdom and creativity of floods experts from around the world. We will now be able to use these new ideas and insight to help better protect not just Cumbria’s people, businesses and infrastructure from flooding but communities across the nation.”

Jeremy Benn Associates and Lancaster University’s entry suggests the use of whole-catchment modelling and the use of new data, which generate a far wider range of realistic extreme event scenarios than normal.

The model’s suggested proposed measures include:

  • Improved interpretations of flood warnings;
  • Interactive maps showing property-level impacts based on detailed models;
  • Natural flood risk management, including large scale flood storage in the lower catchment

Barry Hankin, Head of Environmental Modelling at Jeremy Benn Associates said that their entry built on more than 10 years of academic research and industry innovation, as well as combining advances in data analysis and computer modelling with local engagement.

It is a real honour to have received the top prize in Defra’s competition. This prize money will help us to keep looking into flood risk management strategies that include both traditional and nature-based measures, and we’re already engaging other river catchment areas to see how our modelling approach to the Eden can be applied elsewhere,” he added.

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