I could not agree more. It is a great example of how water does not know anything; it just goes where it has to go and there is no doubt that we need to think about how to manage the problem.
As I have said, there is no conclusive evidence that natural flood management can be used at catchment scale to reduce flood risk; if water storage capacity is added in the wrong place it, too, can increase rather than decrease the risk of flooding, so it must be considered very carefully. That is all the more reason for proper research and funding. There is a pressing need for research and projects—I know that there are projects under way around the country—but we must be careful that that is not used as an excuse for inaction. Natural flood management options have already been shown to be cost-effective management tools for managing localised flood risk in pilot projects such as the one carried out in Pickering, but even in the absence of catchment-scale flood risk reductions, it would make sense to identify areas where there is an opportunity to use NFM on a smaller scale, or where it might itself increase flood risk.
Catchment-level maps of natural flood management opportunities and risks are maintained in Scotland as part of the indicative flood maps provided by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency. As far as I am aware, in England, opportunities for natural flood management have been mapped only for a few catchment areas in Yorkshire and Cumbria. The Environment Agency has produced detailed maps of England showing where there is potential to restore different types of wetland, but not where that might impact on flood risk, which is an important point to remember.