A FLOOD expert said Worcestershire flood defences have done the job to stop homes and businesses flooding - but warn they are "not the answer" long term. 

Dave Throup retired in 2021 after spending more than 20 years in the role of Environmental Agency manager.

Worcester and the county were hit with major flooding last week causing massive disruption to roads and affecting 180 properties after heavy rain following Storm Gerrit and Storm Henk.

People living in Diglis have called for flood barriers similar to Upton and Bewdley.

Mr Throup said: "Many communities along the Severn and Wye now have operational flood defences. And they work. Thousands of homes and businesses are dry today because they’re there.

Worcester News: FLOODING: The scene in Worcester last OctoberFLOODING: The scene in Worcester last October (Image: Adam Llewellyn)

"Take Upton for example, dubbed the most flooded town in the UK. Defences built in 2011 after the catastrophic floods of 2007 at a cost of £4.5m have now protected the town over 50 times. Last week flood water would have been chest high in the waterside buildings.

Worcester News: WARNING: Dave Throup has issued a warning about future flood defencesWARNING: Dave Throup has issued a warning about future flood defences

"It is undoubtedly a success story. But floods are getting bigger due to a rapidly changing climate.

"During the floods of 2020 every flood defence on the Severn and Wye was within 0.5-1.0m of overtopping. It will have been a similar story last week.

"Powick flood defences were overtopped in 2020.

Worcester News: WATER: Visitors next to the flood defences in Upton in 2020.WATER: Visitors next to the flood defences in Upton in 2020. (Image: Newsquest)

"This doesn’t mean the flood defences have failed. They’ve done what they were designed to do. Protect to a certain size of flood. When you get a bigger one it goes over the top or round the edge.

"A big flood on the Severn, like the one we’ve just seen, or 2020 or 2021, is getting quite close to the capability of flood defences.

"And we expect significant increases in flood peaks due to climate change in the very near future.

"What to do? We can’t engineer our way out. Raising existing defences won’t be technically, financially or environmentally possible. Designing future defences to a much higher standard of protection would make them many times more expensive and physically huge.

"Catchment scale attenuation provides some hope for the future. But is complex, requiring joined-up policy and funding. Reducing flood peaks by slowing runoff with multiple interventions.


Worcester News: FLOODING: North Parade, next to River SevernFLOODING: North Parade, next to River Severn (Image: Sam Greenway/Newsquest)

"Wide-scale dredging would make things much worse (here at least).

"If you live behind a flood defence, don’t be complacent. They will protect you from most floods. But not all.

"You should expect to be flooded in future. Have a plan for when it happens."