Improved Flood Warnings for South West England

Learning some of the lessons of the winter floods of 2013 and 2014, the UK’s Environment Agency has announced it has made significant improvements to its flood warning service for Devon and Cornwall.

The two counties, both of which have long stretches of coastline, were severely affected by the storm surges late last year.

According to the Environment Agency, more than 2,500 families and businesses along the north and south coasts of Cornwall will now receive more targeted tidal flood warnings and fewer false alarms thanks to an increase in the number of flood alerts and flood warning areas.

A further 4,000 customers and professional partners will receive more accurate and timely river flood warnings thanks to improved monitoring and forecasting in 11 areas across Devon and Cornwall including the River Lemon at Newton Abbot, the Rivers Exe and Culm at Stoke Canon, the River Otter catchment, River Cober at Helston and River Fowey from Trekievesteps to Lostwithiel.

The flood warning system has also been widened to include the Isles of Scilly which lie 45 km (28 mi) off the coast of the Cornish Peninsula. Residents of the islands will now receive a flood warning service for the first time. The local community will receive Environment Agency warnings through the Islands’ emergency responder’s forum via social media.

Tidal floods, sea level rise and coastal erosion are big issues for the islanders. The highest point on the Isles – at Telegraph on St Mary’s – is just 49 metres above sea level. The main town of the islands, Hugh Town, is just 2 metres above sea level.

Isles of Scilly. Photo: NASA
Isles of Scilly. Photo: NASA