Flood and coastal resilience innovation programme

How to submit an expression of interest to become part of innovative action on flooding and coastal change.

The Environment Agency received 79 eligible expressions of interest (EOI) by the deadline of 29 January 2021.

An assessment panel of experts independently reviewed the EOIs. The experts were from a range of partner organisations and technical specialists from Defra and the Environment Agency’s national teams.

The 25 places selected to proceed to the next stage of the programme are:

  • Bristol City Council: Frome catchment innovation programme
  • Buckinghamshire Council: Groundwater resilience and community engagement
  • Central Bedfordshire Council: Managing flood risk using information technology in the Pix Brook catchment
  • Cornwall Council: Building community resilience on a dynamic coast by making space for sand
  • Cumbria County Council: Cumbria innovative resilience programme
  • Devon County Council: Managing big problems in small places - rapid response ‘type’ catchments
  • Durham County Council: Community SuDS innovation accelerator
  • East Suffolk Council: Norfolk and Suffolk coast transition programme
  • East Sussex County Council: South Wealden and Eastbourne dynamic flood risk management
  • Gateshead Council: Northumbria groundwater flooding - mapping, mitigation and action
  • Lincolnshire County Council: Greater Lincolnshire groundwater project
  • London Borough of Barnet: Silkstream (upper) flood and resilience innovation project
  • London Borough of Richmond-upon-Thames: Flood resilience in the Beverley Brook catchment - a community driven integrated water management approach
  • North East Lincolnshire Council: Doncaster, Immingham and Grimsby surface water resilience project
  • North Northamptonshire Council: Holistic flood resilience in Northamptonshire
  • Northumberland County Council: Empowering rural communities with smart technology - next generation flood resilience
  • Rochdale Borough Council: Roch Valley neighbourhood flood and climate resilience programme
  • Slough Borough Council: Smarter flood resilience - sponge catchments for people and nature
  • South Tyneside Council: Stronger Shores - Marine habitats protecting coastal communities
  • Southend-on-Sea Borough Council: Catchment to coast
  • Staffordshire County Council: A FAIR approach to community flood risk (FAIR stands for flood: aware, informed, resilient)
  • Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council: Tees tidelands
  • Suffolk County Council: Holistic water management – realising the value of flood water
  • Wyre Council: Ecological community owned coastal buffer strips
  • York City Council: York and North Yorkshire natural catchment flood risk solutions

The latest news about the programme is on our SharePoint site. If you would like access to the SharePoint site please email

In the 2020 Budget, the government announced a £200 million fund for this programme. The flood and coastal resilience innovation programme will help meet the aims set out in the:

The programme will allocate £150 million of the £200 million to 25 local areas. For some, a local area might be a county, city, town or village. For others, a place could mean a river catchment, a tidal estuary or part of the coast. On average each area will receive £6 million between 1 April 2021 and 31 March 2027.

With this funding, projects will demonstrate how practical innovative actions can work to improve resilience to flooding and coastal erosion. These ‘resilience actions’ can be individual or a combination of actions. Resilience actions might include:

  • nature based solutions
  • sustainable drainage systems
  • approaches for making existing properties more flood resilient
  • encouraging local businesses to improve their flood resilience
  • building community and voluntary sector capacity to respond and recover

The remaining funding will be used for other flooding and coastal resilience activities. This will include work on long term planning for climate adaptation in the Thames and Humber estuaries, the Severn Valley and Yorkshire. In these areas, they will develop new ways to better plan for future flooding and coastal change and adapt to a changing climate.

Programme aims

The aims of the innovative flood and coastal resilience programme are to:

  • encourage local authorities, businesses and communities to test and demonstrate innovative practical resilience actions in their areas
  • improve the resilience of 25 local areas, reducing the costs of future damage and disruption from flooding and coastal erosion
  • improve evidence on the costs and benefits of the innovative resilience actions and demonstrate how different actions work together across geographical areas
  • use the evidence and learning developed to inform future approaches to, and investments in, flood and coastal erosion risk management

Principles of the programme

This programme will fund 25 areas to provide innovative practical actions. These must improve resilience to flooding and coastal change, including the ability to adapt to future climate change.

These resilience actions will go beyond those funded through the government’s main flood and coastal erosion grant in aid programme.

Each area will implement and evaluate resilience actions selected from the list of eligible resilience actions. Proposed resilience actions must meet all the following 5 principles.

  1. Achieve practical changes which increase resilience within the project area by reducing the likelihood or consequences of flooding or coastal erosion.
  2. Provide public benefits.
  3. Be consistent with existing flood and coastal erosion plans, for example:
    • local flood risk management strategies
    • flood risk management plans
    • catchment flood management plans
    • shoreline management plans
  4. Demonstrate added value – for example, they must:
    • go beyond other local resilience work programmes and other funding mechanisms
    • work with actions funded by other routes

    See the list of potential project partners and other relevant funding.

  5. Demonstrate innovation. See types of innovation.

Types of innovation

We are looking for the following types of innovation.

Combinations of actions that maximise overall resilience

This includes a combination of different resilience actions working together to improve resilience to flooding and coastal change. Specifically, we want to understand how actions complement one another, and add more value compared to individual actions.

Broadening the range of resilience actions

We are looking for projects that:

  • fill gaps in our evidence on the costs and benefits of particular types of resilience actions
  • seek to roll out resilience actions that have only been trialled in a limited number of places or circumstances
  • trial new flood and coastal resilience or adaptation activities

Increasing uptake and achieving resilience actions

This includes:

  • new approaches to achieve a resilience action, for example, using new partnerships, or different ways of working or funding projects to achieve the outcomes
  • actions which seek to overcome existing blockers or barriers

We want to build on (and not duplicate) existing evidence and previous work. See resilience actions: existing evidence and information for more information.

Eligible resilience actions

When considering which resilience actions to take forward we advise applicants to refer to the principles of resilience set out in the:

Each local area should select at least 2 actions from the following list of eligible resilience actions. This should include at least one of the first 5 eligible actions.

Integrated water management solutions

Trial integrated water management solutions which increase resilience to flooding and coastal change whilst also providing other benefits such as:

  • managing water levels
  • improving water quality
  • reducing drought risks
  • helping nature recovery
  • mitigating the impacts of climate change

This might involve:

  • retrofitting sustainable drainage systems (SuDS)
  • dual use water storage for flood attenuation and water resources, or rainwater harvesting
  • gathering cost-benefit information on these actions, particularly on the non-flood and coast related costs and benefits

Nature based solutions

Implement nature based solutions which increase the resilience to flooding and coastal change. These actions will also provide secondary benefits such as:

  • managing water levels
  • improving water quality
  • reducing drought risks
  • helping nature recovery
  • mitigating the impacts of climate change

Nature based solutions must provide new cost-benefit information and evidence of its performance over their lifetime.

We are particularly interested in trialling nature based solutions which:

  • include mid-catchment and lowland approaches (including water storage)
  • improve the resilience to both coastal flooding and coastal erosion
  • trial new ways of working with land managers and farmers, for example working with existing catchment sensitive farming officers

Property flood resilience

Proactively engage with local communities to encourage them to fit property flood resilience (PFR) measures in homes and small to medium businesses. Grants of up to £5,000 to fit PFR measures are available.

Examples of innovative proactive engagement include engaging with property owners seeking building regulation approval, or refurbishing or renovating properties. The actions should target those at high flood risk or who have flooded within the last 3 years. Property owners will need to adapt their design, or use of materials, so they can recover and restore their premises quickly after a flood.

Community infrastructure resilience

Undertake activities which improve the resilience of existing public or community owned infrastructure to flooding and coastal change. Examples of these include local roads, community centres, libraries and sports halls. This could be achieved by:

  • implementing sustainable drainage
  • installing property flood resilience measures
  • adapting roads to convey floodwater away from properties or / infrastructure
  • providing temporary or secondary defences

Please note this is for modifying existing infrastructure. It is not for new infrastructure, which should be designed to be resilient, or privately owned infrastructure. Major infrastructure operators and private operators are responsible for the resilience of their own infrastructure. Nor is this for local authority business as usual responsibilities for example, clearing drains. Schools can access resilience funding from the Department for Education.

Monitoring and management of local assets

Create new monitoring infrastructure or asset management systems, or both, for existing locally owned (non-Environment Agency) flood risk management assets for example:

  • bridges
  • dams
  • walls
  • natural flood management
  • sustainable drainage systems

Please note that this should enable improved monitoring and management of local assets. This will help to understand how they work in combination to improve resilience to flooding and coastal change, alongside Environment Agency assets.

Minimise damages and disruption to small and medium sized businesses

Work with small and medium sized businesses to identify resilience actions which could minimise disruption and damage to businesses from flooding and coastal change. The businesses must be in the local area. The project could include minimising disruption and damages to assets, supply chains and operations.

Please note that this is also about developing new learning, advice, approaches and guidance to support other businesses.

Businesses will be responsible for implementing and funding the resilience actions they choose to progress.

Community and voluntary sector action to be better prepared and recover more quickly

Test innovative ways to better involve communities and the voluntary sector in collaborative decision making about how to manage the risk of flooding and coastal change their area. Some examples are to:

  • help communities become better prepared to manage their own risk
  • build community and voluntary sector capacity and skills to recover from flood events

Please note this should build on existing evidence and approaches, and develop new learning, advice and guidance to support work with the community and voluntary sector.

Local emergency response equipment

Provide local emergency response equipment for the community to use when there is a flood, for example:

  • flood sacks
  • temporary barriers
  • safety equipment
  • pumps

Please note that this should include training to ensure the users have the appropriate skills to use, locate and store the new equipment. This action should encourage new behaviours in community resilience and communities to respond to the risks of flooding and coastal change.

Enhanced flood warning systems

Develop and test enhanced or new localised flood warning systems.

Please note that these must add to, and fit in with, existing national arrangements.

Investigate policy challenge areas

Investigate and conduct a thorough local assessment of selected policy challenge areas. The assessment should set out ways to overcome one of the following 3 challenges, and then implement some of the resilience actions identified. The challenges are:

  • balancing agricultural, flood and environmental priorities in low-lying agricultural land
  • meeting the need for major new developments in areas with flood risks
  • retrofitting drainage and water management arrangements in urban areas

Please see information about policy challenges for more details on this action. The Environment Agency will select one local area to take forward each challenge. Each area will need to submit a report to Defra and Environment Agency within the first 2 years. The reports will provide a basis for local action, inform wider decision-making and the operational implementation of resilience actions. Some of the approaches and actions identified will be implemented within your local area.

If the resilience action you want to do is not on this list, please add it to your combination of resilience actions and make a case for it. However, it must meet the criteria specified in the types of innovation.

Resilience actions that are not eligible

Construction of new community flood and sea defences

This includes formal engineered structures such as:

  • walls
  • dams
  • artificial channels
  • water control and pumping installations,
  • breakwaters
  • groynes
  • artificial foreshores

Recovery actions following a flood event

This applies during the lifetime of this programme, including compensation for households or property owners impacted by flooding and coastal change.

Business as usual actions

This includes actions normally expected of risk management authorities (RMAs) or required by statute.

Contribution to funding under certain other programmes

This programme funding cannot be used as a contribution to FCERM partnership funding or for an action which has been funded under other programmes.

We encourage projects to use other funding mechanisms, for example, Environmental Land Management schemes and the Nature for Climate Fund. Projects may seek to integrate with actions funded through other funding or similar routes, but there must be no duplication.

Project eligibility

All projects from the successful local areas must be led by a single lead local flood authority (LLFA) or coast protection authority (CPA). Each local area can have more than one project. Each project should be submitted on a separate EOI and must not be dependent on the other. However, projects can include multiple eligible resilience actions. They will also be assessed in a moderation process - see programme stage 2, phase 3.

We are keen to see projects that:

  • involve a range of local RMAs and other relevant bodies, including projects involving more than one LLFA or CPA, but with one lead
  • cover places at a strategic scale and cross administrative boundaries
  • use or build on existing partnerships, or create new ones

For ideas about potential partners and additional funding opportunities see potential project partners and other relevant funding. This is unlikely to be new information for RMAs, but a useful cross-check.

Programme funding

Funding will vary depending on the resilience actions that the projects from the 25 local areas provide.

The Environment Agency will decide how much funding to allocate when they assess the expressions of interest (EOI). Each local area should prepare an EOI assuming there will be an average of around £6 million in total. The Environment Agency will make this funding available to projects from the 25 local areas over the 6 year period.

Each local area will need to provide detailed assessments of the benefits and costs as the proposals develop. The Environment Agency has designed the expression of interest so the viability and benefits of each proposal can be easily demonstrated. This will allow a high level value for money check to be completed during the assessment process. The selected areas will need to develop a full business case and submit it for assurance. This business case should seek to follow existing guidance:

The Environment Agency will issue guidance specifically for this programme. It will explain how to complete the business case and in particular, how to approach building the economic case for investment. This guidance will be available before the detailed project planning stage.

The Environment Agency will administer the funding. All 25 successful areas must comply with the conditions in both the:

Programme stages

Stage 1 – develop your expression of interest (EOI)

This stage is approximately 10 weeks from 9 November 2020 to 29 January 2021.

LLFAs and CPAs have this period to request and complete an expression of interest (EOI) form. Please send an email to to request an EOI form.

The EOI form will help you to develop a clear case for support, without the need for high levels of evidence and detail. The Environment Agency will provide advice during this stage via webinars with LLFAs and CPAs. Further guidance also included in the EOI form.

Stage 2 - assessment

This stage is approximately 4 weeks from 29 January 2021 to February 2021.

There are 3 phases to the assessment.

Phase 1

The EOIs will be screened to make sure they meet the programme principles and eligibility requirements.

Phase 2

EOIs will be assessed using the value for money and viability criteria set out in section I of the EOI form. Assessment panels will score and shortlist the EOIs. The assessment panels will include representatives from the Environment Agency, Defra and others. Some of the applicants expressing an interest may be invited to an interview.

Phase 3

The assessment panel will carry out a moderation process. This is to make sure the shortlist is balanced in:

  • risks addressed
  • range of resilience actions
  • geographical spread across England

The assessment panel may ask areas to consider some different or additional resilience actions from the ones they originally proposed. This will help to balance the programme or give more replicates to improve the evidence gathered.

Stage 3 - area selection

This stage is approximately 4 weeks from March 2021.

The Environment Agency will announce the successful 25 local areas.

Stage 4 - project development

This is approximately 12 weeks from April 2021 to June 2021.

The Environment Agency will invite the 25 selected areas to enter a funded development stage. You will need to develop your EOI into a full project and complete the Form FCERM 7.

Stage 5 - project implementation

This stage is approximately 6 years from June 2021 to April 2027.

The 25 selected local areas will receive financial approval to develop an outline business case and supporting activities, including engagement and modelling.

The outline business case must be submitted to the Environment Agency to review and assure.

Once each project has been assured selected areas will get full financial approval and can begin their proposals.

Data collection, testing and analysis, and reporting

This activity will continue throughout stage 5 - project implementation.

An essential part of the project will be to test the resilience actions so that the Environment Agency can compare the results. Projects will also need to quantify and analyse the impacts and benefits of the resilience actions. Selected areas will report on progress every 3 months and against important milestones. Throughout and after the programme, participants and their partners should share knowledge, learning and insights.

Projects will be evaluated at a strategic programme level. The evaluation will examine how well the projects have met the programme’s aims and objectives. It will also investigate the costs and benefits of the resilience actions individually and when combined. The projects must cooperate with this evaluation and collect the necessary information and data.

How to apply

Please send an email to to request an EOI form.

Please send your completed EOI form to by 29 January 2021.

The Environment Agency’s SharePoint site has supporting information and frequently asked questions about the programme. Please send an email to if you would like to access the SharePoint site. You will get an email to confirm when you have access. Please allow up to 3 working days for this.

Potential project partners and other relevant funding

Potential project partners

  • Riparian owners
  • Local landowners
  • Parish Councils
  • Natural England
  • Water and Sewerage Companies
  • Internal Drainage Boards
  • Highways Authorities
  • Water UK
  • The Rivers Trust
  • Catchment Based Approach (CaBA) partnerships
  • Local flood action groups
  • Health Protection Agency
  • NHS Trusts
  • Police
  • Fire and Rescue
  • English Heritage
  • The Met Office
  • Canal and River Trust
  • Centre for Ecology and Hydrology
  • Institute of Civil Engineers
  • Chartered Institute of Water and Environment Management
  • British Hydrological Society
  • The Flood Forecasting Centre
  • Association of British Insurers
  • Local Wildlife Trust
  • Forestry Commission
  • Woodland Trust
  • Association of Drainage Authorities
  • Engineering or Environmental consultants and contractors
  • National Flood Forum
  • Local charities such as the Islamic Relief and Salvation Army
  • Academic institutions and universities
  • Country Land and Business Association
  • National Farmers Union
  • River Restoration Centre
  • Network Rail and other utility providers
  • Catchment Sensitive Farming advisors

Relevant resilience work programmes

Other funding mechanisms

Resilience actions: existing evidence and information

Nature based solutions

Sustainable drainage systems (SuDS)

Property flood resilience (PFR)


Information about policy challenge areas

One of the actions which areas are invited to take forward is to undertake a rigorous local assessment about ways to overcome one of 3 policy challenges.

The areas selected for this task should provide a report for Defra and the Environment Agency within the first 2 years. The remaining funding and time should be used to put some of the approaches and actions identified in place. The Environment Agency expects that a different area will take forward each challenge.

This action is about understanding these complex situations in an evidence-based way. All affected parties should be included and an appraisal of the costs and benefits completed to identify suitable approaches. Learning from these actions will support future local actions, and inform wider decision-making nationally and in similar geographical areas.

The 3 challenges

1. Balancing agricultural, flood and environmental priorities in low-lying agricultural land.

Some areas at risk of flood or coastal erosion or both, include significant concentrations of grade 1 agricultural land. Furthermore, often it is only a few metres above sea level. The report should explore the different viewpoints about:

  • the future use and management of this land
  • the balance between goals on food, farming, environmental improvement (peat, wildlife)
  • water management (water storage and levels)

It would seek to identify more resilient approaches for future management of this land. These approaches would then be taken forward in partnership with the owners and managers of low lying areas.

2. Meeting the need for major new developments in areas with flood risks.

The project would explore actions that increase flood resilience enough to allow new development. This will involve exploring:

  • combinations of actions
  • parties involved
  • governance
  • mechanisms needed to implement actions

It could cover ways to achieve existing flood resilience requirements for major developments in a more efficient or effective way. It might also cover ways to exceed these existing requirements locally where there are cost-effective benefits to do so. The area would then implement some of these approaches in collaboration with the relevant parties.

3. Retrofitting drainage and water management arrangements in urban areas.

This is about developing, testing and implementing new approaches to urban drainage and water management. The aim is to improve existing urban environments to cope with more severe rainfall in the future.

The focus should be on identifying a suite of sustainable drainage and water management solutions. The solutions should work together to manage the flood risks and realise wider benefits across one geographical area. The project would also focus on the process needed to implement those solutions. This would include identifying and enabling the important partners to allow joined up action.

The local area would then implement some of these approaches in collaboration with the relevant partners.

FCERM grant in aid memorandum addendum

This is an addendum to the Grant Memorandum relating to capital grants for local authorities and internal drainage boards in England (2018). This addendum sets out the conditions that apply specifically to the flood and coastal resilience innovation programme.

You must read these special conditions and apply them as terms incorporated into the grant memorandum for the programme. Most of the special conditions do not apply to or vary certain conditions set out in the grant memorandum. Where there is an inconsistency or conflict between the grant memorandum and this addendum, the provisions in this addendum will prevail.

Special Conditions

1. Terms defined in the grant memorandum

Unless otherwise provided, expressions defined in the Grant Memorandum and used in this addendum shall have the meaning set out in the Grant Memorandum.

2. Treatment of projects

Projects undertaken within the programme are to be treated as studies for the purposes of the Grant Memorandum and associated application and reporting forms.

3. Eligibility for a capital grant

The programme will select a number of places across the country, where funding will be allocated to develop and implement flood and coastal resilience projects. The selected places will be eligible for a capital grant under the programme. Full details about the capital grant application process is set out in this guidance.

4. Partnership funding policy

The provisions of the grant memorandum requiring compliance with Defra’s partnership funding policy will not apply to the programme. Partnership funding scores will not be used to make decisions on investment. Authorities will not be required to secure partnership funding contributions towards the cost of projects.

5. What capital grant money must not be used for

Capital grant money must not be used for the:

  • construction of new flood or coastal defences
  • alteration, improvement, repair or maintenance of existing flood or coastal defences

By ‘flood or coastal defences’, we mean hard engineered works for defence against water, including sea water. This includes (without limitation):

  • flood walls
  • embankments
  • banks
  • culverts
  • sluices
  • barriers
  • floodgates
  • locks
  • weirs
  • dams
  • coastal and sea defences
  • hard engineered flood storage reservoirs

Property flood resilience measures are considered acceptable.

Capital grant money must not be used for channel maintenance or for dredging works. This includes works to raise or take sand, silt, ballast, clay, gravel or other materials from or off the bed or banks of a watercourse.

6. Partnership funding gaps

Capital grant money must not be used to fill partnership funding gaps in other non-programme projects. This includes projects where an authority applies for FCERM grant in aid under the terms of the Grant Memorandum and Defra’s partnership funding policy. But, capital grant money may be used with funding from other partners within the authority-led partnership under the programme.

7. Efficiency targets

Efficiency targets will not apply to the capital grants under the programme. These efficiency targets are those that apply to the FCERM capital programme and Defra’s partnership funding policy.

8. Regional flood and coastal committee (RFCC)

The RFCC does not need to approve or allocate this capital grant. The Environment Agency will distribute the capital grant for this programme directly to local areas. But, the authority-led partnership must demonstrate how the project(s) align with local flood and coastal risk management approaches.

9. FCERM 7 form

The FCERM 7 form will be used in this programme. This is the ‘Application for approvals of studies and strategies.

The FCERM 4 form will not be used. This is the ‘Application for the allocation of contingency or a change in total project cost of approved schemes or studies’.

10. Rates of capital grant

The provisions set out under section 21 of the Grant Memorandum do not apply to capital grants under the programme.

11. Intellectual property rights and results arising in the project

For the purposes of this addendum the following shall apply.

‘Results’ shall mean, all things produced in performing and carrying out of the project, including:

  • know-how
  • approaches
  • lessons learned
  • products
  • processes
  • maps
  • plans
  • photographs
  • drawings
  • tapes
  • statistical data
  • experimental results
  • field data
  • analysis of results
  • published and unpublished results and reports
  • inventions
  • computer programmes
  • user documentation

‘Intellectual property rights’ or IPR means any and all

  • copyright
  • rights in inventions
  • patents
  • know-how
  • trade-marks and trade names
  • design rights
  • database rights
  • rights in data
  • all similar rights of whatever nature

    and, in each case:

    • whether registered or not
    • including any applications to protect or register such rights
    • including all renewals and extensions of such rights or applications
    • whether vested, contingent, present or future
    • wherever existing

All ‘results’ and ‘IPR’ in the results shall belong to the Environment Agency. The objective of the grant is for the benefit of the public and to assist other places in the country to become flood resilient. It is a condition of the grant that you make all the results accessible, share them widely and responsibly. This is subject to compliance with the law including but not limited to data protection laws.

To help you achieve this the Environment Agency grants you a non-exclusive transferable licence in respect of the results and IPR. This is under an open government licence. There is also a right to sub-licence all the results and IPR. Sub licences allow some or all of the rights under the open government licence to be granted to others (third parties).

12. Term of the programme

The Environment Agency anticipates the programme will run from 1 April 2021 until 31 March 2027. We reserve the right to extend the programme at any time, beyond the anticipated end date.

Published 9 November 2020
Last updated 29 March 2021 + show all updates
  1. The 25 successful places to go through to the next stage of the programme have been added.

  2. The deadline to submit Expression of Interest (EOI) forms has been extended from 15 January 2021 to 29 January 2021.

  3. The 'How to apply' has been updated to include a link to request access to the SharePoint site for supporting information and frequently asked questions about the programme.

  4. First published.