Flooding could be major threat to life in Shropshire by 2050, report warns

Shrewsbury and other parts of the county could face major life-threatening flooding by 2050, according to Environment Agency predictions.

High water levels in Shrewsbury earlier this year
High water levels in Shrewsbury earlier this year

Shropshire Council's Communities Overview Committee will today discuss progress on measures to improve the response to flooding – following a review ordered after the county was hit by its worst flooding in 20 years in February and March 2020.

A report prepared for the committee has made a number of recommendations for improvements to the official response to severe weather events, but it also outlines the potential impact of climate change on flooding in the county.

Using the baseline predictions offered by the Environment Agency of a 2C global temperature rise by 2050, it is estimated that river flows will be "more extreme", and around 27 per cent higher.

If flows on the River Severn were 27 per cent higher it could lead to flood depths of six metres at the Welsh Bridge.

The highest level ever recorded at the gauge is 5.25m, in November, 2000, resulting in major flooding.

A depth of six metres would overwhelm existing flood barriers and lead to more severe flooding in areas such as Coleham, which was hit in both 2020 and earlier this year.

The report, from Steve Smith, Shropshire Council's Assistant Director of Infrastructure, says the predictions mean it is "essential" the council invests and prepares for the future.

It states: "The impacts of these predictions in Shropshire are significant. The recent 2020 and 2021 flood events were the worst flooding experienced in Shropshire for the last 20 years, with levels reaching close to the highest recorded levels of the 2000 floods.

"These events are likely to become more regular in the future, with their frequency and intensity set to increase.

"A 27 per cent increase in river levels in Shrewsbury by 2050 could result in flood depths regularly exceeding six metres at the Welsh Bridge. This would exceed the height of the existing flood barriers and pose an extreme risk to life.

"It is therefore essential that Shropshire Council and partner agencies adequately invest and prepare for future flooding and severe weather events."

A group called the River Severn Partnership is currently looking at what can be done to reduce the prospect of flooding along the length of the river in the coming years.

Mr Smith's report states: "The River Severn Partnership was formed in September 2019 as a partnership of organisations drawn from across the entire River Severn catchment. It comprises all local authorities, includes water companies, key stakeholders and the Environment Agency and its purpose includes taking a holistic approach to what measures are necessary to mitigate and adapt to the impacts of climate change including flooding, drought, water security and quality."

It comes as MET office experts have offered a gloomy prediction for the coming month, with households being urged to be prepared for the risk of flooding.

A Met Office outlook shows there is an above-average chance of the winter being wetter than normal over the three months from November to January, with the wetter conditions most likely in January next year and beyond.

With the potential for more wet weather and impacts from rainfall and winds, the Environment Agency is urging people to check their flood risk online, sign up for flood warnings and, if they are at risk, know what to do if flooding hits their home.

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