On 1st September, Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole (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 communities across the BCP area from the significant challenges created by the climate crisis. The team 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 seen a wide range of projects attracting funding and being delivered in-house.
Councillor Mark Anderson, Portfolio Holder for Environment, Cleansing and Waste at BCP, 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 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. In the BCP area alone, during the pandemic, coast protection projects included:
- A £7.5million scheme which delivered 350,000m³ of sand and beach material to seven depleted beach areas from Southbourne to Poole, carried out over winter 2020/21.
- The renewal of four timber groynes on Bournemouth beach as the first part of a two-year, £1.9 million programme to renew a total of eight groynes; Year 2 commences October 2021.
- A £2.5m cliff stabilisation scheme following a 2017 cliff slip at Canford Cliffs beach, completed May 2021.
- £12.4m funding awarded for new defences along Back Water Channel to help protect Poole Town Centre and the Old Town from tidal flooding.
- A further £450k awarded for the development of a Christchurch Bay and Harbour FCERM Strategy covering the frontage from Hengistbury Head to Hurst Spit.
Details of FCERM projects and future schemes across the BCP area can be found at www.twobays.net