The National Flood Forum from Jack Southon’s eyes

It sounds like it should be the start of a bad joke – what do you get if you put a Flood Modeller, an Emergency Planner, and the Lead for Flood Resilience in a room together? (answers on a post card please). But these three roles represent the three JBA staff members who attended this year’s National Flood Forum (NFF) conference on Wednesday.

Despite their different backgrounds and professional interests, all were equally impressed with the range of speakers contributing to this year’s NFF conference. The diversity of our staff however was nothing when compared to the range of backgrounds of the other attendees.

Diverse range of attendees

This was the first NFF conference I have attended and I found the mix of attendees, particularly those from Local Flood Action Groups, really added to the level of the debate. There was occasionally something of the pantomime about the audience’s response to the speakers, with cheers of ‘hear-hear’ ringing out frequently in response to the popular and provocative in equal measure. But where else would the Chairs and members of various Regional Flood and Costal Committees (RFCC), Lead Local Flood Authority (LLFA) officers, flood wardens and local action groups get to engage so readily.

Listening is key

I have a rule that if you attend a conference you should always ask a question – but on Wednesday I gladly broke that rule to hear the concerns of the various Flood Action Groups present. It was refreshing to spend a conference speaking to the flooded rather than fellow flood risk professionals. To re-invigorate occasionally jaded professional interests by putting faces and stories to the real world situations we are trying to manage. I think I only spoke to one other consultant during the course of the whole day as I was too busy listening to and learning from residents of flooded neighbourhoods, Local Authority Offices and Flood Wardens who were freely sharing their experiences.

Highlight of the day

Amongst all the fine speakers a particular highlight for me was Dr Hugh Ellis’ presentation, looking at how English Local Plans are responding to the challenge of Climate Change drawing on the Town and Country Planning Association’s (TCPA) report ‘Planning for Climate Change’. Not only was the presentation an excellent and thought provoking insight into the recent study, but Hugh was on particularly fine form in his appraisal of some of the critical issues we face as an industry and a society going forward. I would recommend the TCPA report, or at the very least the Executive summary documents, as essential reading for anyone and if you see Hugh listed to speak at any further events then he is well worth the price of admittance.

The value of a different perspective

In conclusion, a very worthwhile conference that I have gained a lot from. Not an occasion to meet-up with the same old industry faces and congratulate ourselves on how well we are doing. Rather an opportunity to meet new friends who will hold our feet to the fire to make sure we are doing our upmost to ensure we are not ‘Planning to Flood’.

My thanks to all the speakers and attendees for such a thought provoking event.

Want to know more?

You can contact Jack Southon, author of this blog and part of our Development and Planning Team, should you wish to discuss the conference more and how we can help you in your development planning.

Please do get in touch with Phil Emonson or Sara Lane who would be happy to help with any flood resilience planning queries you might have.

There is also more information on both sustainable development planning and flood resilience planning on our website.



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