Revealed: How Cars Cause Urban Floods ; HOME

By McCarthy, Michael | The Independent (London, England), March 7, 2007 | Go to article overview
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Revealed: How Cars Cause Urban Floods ; HOME


McCarthy, Michael, The Independent (London, England)


Why on earth would increased car ownership in urban areas lead to flash flooding? Because towns and cities are complex systems of cause and effect - and the Government needs to start thinking about that, according to a new report.

The link between more cars and more flooding may not be immediately obvious to most of us, but it is vividly illustrated in a diagram in the report, entitled The Urban Environment, published yesterday by the Royal Commission on Environmental Pollution.

Increased car ownership and use leads to demands for more roads and parking, the diagram explains. That then leads to an increase in hard, impermeable surfaces which cannot soak up rain - which in turn leads to more polluted surface water running off into drains, and in real downpours, a much higher risk of a flash flood. These sort of complex interactions are not being addressed by the Government in policy and planning, says the report, calling for the development of an overarching policy on the urban environment.

The commission expresses surprise that the Government does not already have such a comprehensive, connected strategy to deal with the combined pollution impact of housing, transport and energy use in the towns and cities, where 80 per cent of Britons now live. It wants "joined-up" policy, it says.

"The commission are actually astonished that the Government doesn't have an over-arching urban environmental policy that takes account of people's health and well-being, the environment and transport, and tries to join up what we do to tackle these problems," Sir John Lawton, the commission chairman said. "There are examples of good things happening all over the place. The thing is, there aren't enough of them and they are happening too slowly.

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