Defra appoints academic to oversee flood risks in South West

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has appointed an academic from the University of Exeter to Chair the South West Regional Flood and Coastal Committee (RFCC).  Professor Robert Van de Noort’s appointment is a reflection of his extensive research in the dynamics of coasts, rivers and peatlands, and how people have interacted with these landscapes over a period of more than 10,000 years, in addition to his various roles across the sector.

The Regional Flood and Coastal Committees were set up under the Floods and Water Management Act 2010 and play an important local role in guiding flood and coastal risk management activities within river catchments and along the coast, advising on and approving programmes of work for their areas. RFCCs also raise local levies to fund local priority projects and works in partnership with others.

Professor Van de Noort said of the appointment: ‘Throughout my career, I have been fascinated by how local communities lived on the banks of rivers and along the sea. This appointment provides me with the unparalleled opportunity to apply this research expertise into the real world, helping to optimise the economic, social and environmental importance of the wetlands of the south west of England. The key to this is thinking and acting sustainably, and the long-term perspectives from my research are perfectly suited to this.’

Alongside this new position, Professor Van de Noort is also the Dean of the College of Social Sciences and International Studies at the University of Exeter, where he holds a personal chair in wetland archaeology.  Previously, he has been involved with the Humber Estuary Shoreline Management Plan and the Wetland Vision Project.  He has been a Trustee of the Ponds Conservation Trust, and a member of the IUCN’s Inquiry into UK Peatlands.

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