AUTHORITIES are looking to Bolton to help fight a "war against water" in preparation for an increase in flooding problems.

Following an eight-week consultation on the future of flood defences, Environment Agency chair, Emma Howard Boyd, has called for a new approach, pointing at measures in Smithills as a way forward.

The Smithills Estate Natural Flood Management scheme intercepts and slows the flow of water, helping to reduce the risk to around 30 properties downstream and experts think this method of preparing for floods could be more effective than building walls or other infrastructure.

Works conducted in Smithills so far include the construction of four 30 metre long, one metre high, wooden dams, each capable of holding back up to 150 cubic metres of flood water - the equivalent of a double decker bus. Such structures, which incorporate ‘live’ wood, deliver environmental habitat benefits, as well as reducing flood risk.

The Environment Agency is looking to similar solutions in an attempt to prepare for a 4C° increase in global temperatures by 2050, bringing increased flooding and higher sea levels.

Ms Boyd said: “The coastline has never stayed in the same place and there have always been floods, but climate change is increasing and accelerating these threats.

“We can’t win a war against water by building away climate change with infinitely high flood defences.

"We need to develop consistent standards for flood and coastal resilience in England that help communities better understand their risk and give them more control about how to adapt and respond.”

Currently, two thirds of properties in England are served by infrastructure in areas at risk of flooding and for every person who suffers flooding, around 16 more are affected by loss of services such as power, transport and telecommunications.

The Environment Agency has called for all infrastructure to be flood resilient by 2050.

Among the recommendations from the recent consultation, the agency says it will work with partners to develop consistent standards for flood defences across the country.

This includes handing communities a range of tools which give them control of how they prepare for and respond to flooding, based on the challenges or flood risk that particular location may face.

These could include traditional defences, temporary barriers, natural flood management, sustainable drainage systems, effective flood warnings and emergency response.