Flood and coastal innovation programmes

Introducing 3 innovative programmes to improve resilience to flooding and coastal change.

Applies to England

Flood and coastal innovation programmes

In the 2020 Budget, the government announced a £200 million innovation fund to help meet the aims set out in the:

Between 2021 and 2027, the flood and coastal resilience innovation fund, managed by the Environment Agency, will allocate:

  • £150 million to the flood and coastal resilience innovation programme where 25 local areas will demonstrate how practical innovative actions can work to improve resilience to flooding and coastal erosion
  • up to £36m to the coastal transition accelerator programme which has commenced with projects in East Riding of Yorkshire, North Norfolk and may include other locations in the future, to explore and support communities and businesses to adapt to a changing coast
  • £8 million to the adaptation pathways programme for work on long term planning for climate adaptation in the Thames and Humber estuaries, the Severn Valley and Yorkshire

The remaining funds will be used to support the projects and the evaluation of the programmes.

Flood and coastal resilience innovation programme

The flood and coastal resilience innovation programme has allocated £150 million to 25 local areas.

For some, a local area might be a county, city, town or village. For others, an area could mean a river catchment, an 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

Programme aims

The aims of the flood and coastal resilience innovation 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 develop innovative practical actions that improve resilience to flooding and coastal change. This includes 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.

Principle 1: achieve practical changes which increase resilience within the project area by reducing the likelihood or consequences of flooding or coastal erosion.

Principle 2: provide public benefits.

Principle 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

Principle 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

Principle 5: demonstrate innovation. See types of innovation,

Types of innovation

The areas will deliver innovation in the following ways.

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

The projects will:

  • 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 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.

The 25 areas

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 EOI. 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: Project Groundwater
  • Central Bedfordshire Council: Managing flood risk using information technology (MFRUIT) in the Pix Brook catchment
  • Cornwall Council: Building community resilience on a dynamic coast by making space for sand
  • Cumbria County Council: Cumbria community flood resilience innovation programme
  • Devon County Council: Managing big problems in small places - rapid response ‘type’ catchments
  • Durham County Council: Community sustainable drainage systems (SuDS) innovation accelerator
  • East Suffolk Council: Resilient coasts - Great Yarmouth and East Suffolk
  • East Sussex County Council: Blue Heart
  • Gateshead Council: Northumbria groundwater flooding
  • Lincolnshire County Council: Greater Lincolnshire groundwater project
  • London Borough of Barnet: Silk Stream flood resilience innovation project
  • London Borough of Richmond-upon-Thames: Flood resilience in the Beverley Brook catchment in Richmond
  • North East Lincolnshire Council: Doncaster, Immingham & Grimsby sustainable drainage systems retrofit
  • West Northamptonshire Council: Holistic flood resilience in Northamptonshire
  • Northumberland County Council: Empowering rural communities through 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 flood, aware, informed, resilient (FAIR) approach to community flood risk
  • Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council: Tees tidelands
  • Suffolk County Council: Reclaim the rain
  • Wyre Council: Ecological coastal buffer strips (Eco-CoBS)
  • York City Council: York and North Yorkshire catchment flood management

For the latest news, please visit the Environment Agency’s flood and coastal resilience innovation programme engagement website.

Coastal transition accelerator programme

As part of the Government’s £200 million innovation fund, £36 million will be invested to adapt to the effects of climate change on the coast.

Known as the coastal transition accelerator programme (CTAP), the initial areas of focus will be East Riding of Yorkshire and North Norfolk. Both local authorities will receive funding to help communities on the coast that cannot sustainably be defended from coastal erosion.

Residents and businesses will be supported to prepare and plan for the long term. There will also be some immediate adaptation actions that support the long-term resilience of communities near the coast.

Such interventions might include:

  • rolling back property and facilities at immediate risk of coast erosion
  • improving and replacing damaged community infrastructure, such as beach access or coastal transport links and replacing public or community owned buildings in areas at risk with removable, modular, or other innovative buildings
  • repurposing land in coastal erosion zones for different uses such as temporary car parks and restoring and creating habitats
  • working with the finance and property sectors to explore innovative finance or funding mechanisms to help move communities away from rapidly eroding areas
  • using the local planning system so it enables roll back, encourages adaptable development and stops inappropriate development at risk from coastal erosion

The Environment Agency will manage the programme, supporting coastal local authorities as they develop and deliver their local projects. It will also ensure that ongoing learning is shared with other coastal areas facing similar challenges.

The programme will run to March 2027, exploring, and testing innovative opportunities. A full evaluation of the programme will help to inform future national policy direction and will add to our coastal resilience activity elsewhere. This includes a national coastal erosion risk map providing clearer data about local risks to help local planning, and the ongoing national refresh of existing Shoreline Management Plans.

For the latest news, please visit the Environment Agency’s flood and coastal transition accelerator programme engagement website.

Adaptation pathways programme

As part of the Government’s £200 million innovation fund, £8 million was allocated to develop adaptation pathway plans in 4 key locations of national significance.

The 4 locations will help us deliver on the strategic objectives and measures in the Environment Agency’s National Flood and Coastal Erosion Risk Management Strategy for England

The 4 locations are tackling this challenge together, sharing knowledge and working practices to develop adaptation pathway plans. This programme will generate a package of guidance, resources, and tools. This will better integrate adaptation to future flooding and coastal change into the Environment Agency’s work.

The plans will help the Environment Agency and risk management authorities plan for and fund the right investment in flood and coastal resilience. This will achieve the maximum benefit for people and places at the right time.

The 4 locations selected are:

  • Thames Estuary TE2100 (an established adaptation pathway plan)
  • Humber Strategy 2100+ (an established flood and coastal risk management strategy)
  • River Severn Partnership (a developing partnership and new adaptation pathway plan)
  • Yorkshire (2 projects in South Yorkshire and West Yorkshire)

For the latest news, please visit the Environment Agency’s adaptation pathway programme engagement website.

Further information

The latest news about the innovation programmes is on the Environment Agency’s flood and coastal resilience innovation programmes engagement website. Here you will also find information and links to the 3 programmes described above.

Published 9 November 2020
Last updated 16 May 2023 + show all updates
  1. Website titles changed to "Flood and Coastal Innovation Programmes" to bring the page in line with other descriptions.

  2. New links added to the Environment Agency's innovation fund engagement website.

  3. The page has been updated to include information about the 3 programmes that form the flood and coastal resilience innovation fund.

  4. The Holistic flood resilience in Northamptonshire project is now being led by West Northamptonshire Council not North Northamptonshire Council.

  5. The 25 successful places to go through to the next stage of the programme have been added.

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

  7. 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.

  8. First published.