Delivering and Evaluating Multiple Flood Risk Benefits in Blue-Green Cities
University of Nottingham

EPSRC Studentship

Building a community understanding of flood risk through participatory modelling

Running alongside the Blue-Green Cities project was an EPSRC studentship held by Shaun Maskrey and supervised by Nick Mount and Colin Thorne at the University of Nottingham

The studentship investigated the potential of different participatory modelling tools to more actively involve local stakeholders in the modelling of flood risk. It had the following five objectives:

  1. Elicit what participation aims to deliver at different stages of the flood risk modelling process
  2. Identify the strengths and limitations of different participatory modelling tools
  3. Develop a methodological approach through which participatory modelling can be delivered
  4. Trial and evaluate different participatory tools in local flood risk contexts
  5. Develop a framework against which to evaluate the use of participatory tools

Two case studies, Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire and Southwell, Nottinghamshire, were selected in which to trial two popular tools: Bayesian networks and system dynamics, respectively. Literature review has revealed that the affordances of these tools are suited to different stages in the flood risk modelling process (Figure 1).

Research space

The Hebden Bridge and Southwell case studies in the PhD research space.

The case study in Hebden Bridge ran from late-2013 to mid-2014. It consisted of six workshops attended by a mixture of local stakeholders, including non-expert residents and expert representatives from the Environment Agency, Calderdale Metropolitan Borough Council, The National Trust and others. Through a series of modelling activities, the group co-produced a conceptual model of their understanding of flood risk using Bayesian networks. The network was built around nine key ‘catchment objectives’ identified by participants (Figure 2), and investigated how different interventions might affect their achievement.  


Catchment objectives for the Hebden Bridge case study.

Results showed that participants prioritised the social consequences of flood above other effects of flooding, and saw a community stewardship approach to flood resilience as being the favourable route to achieving their objectives, as illustrated in the 'Change Under Each Scenario’ pdf PDF file icon.

second case study in Southwell ran in 2015. In partnership with Southwell Flood Forum, five workshops uased employ system dynamics as the participatory modelling tool. Southwell is at a much later stage in the flood risk modelling process than Hebden Bridge (Figure 1), with the community focussed on appraising options and designing solutions for reducing flood risk, the funding for which (c. £1.9 million) having recently been secured. The five workshops brought together a group of 15-20 individuals, mainly local residents (both experts and non-experts), with additional representatives from Nottinghamshire County Council, the Environment Agency and Severn Trent Water. 

Hebden Bridge e-Bulletins

e-Bulletins provided the stakeholders involved in the Hebden Bridge project with background information and regular updates on progress and future workshops (oldest at top).

PDF file icon  Looking at flood risk differently in Hebden Bridge 

PDF file icon  The multiple benefits of thinking blue-green in Hebden Bridge

PDF file icon  A very short introduction to Participatory Modelling

PDF file icon  A very short introduction to Bayesian networks

PDF file icon  Our Partnership with the Blue-Green Cities project

PDF file icon  Hot off the press in surface water flooding

PDF file icon  Uncertainty

PDF file icon  Behind the scenes 1: Initial network structure

PDF file icon  Risk  

PDF file icon  Mid-project progress report  

PDF file icon  Taking a step see the bigger picture   

PDF file icon  Behind the scenes 2: Merging the Networks

PDF file icon  Hot off the press in uncertainty

PDF file icon  Behind the scenes 3: Building the model in Netica  

PDF file icon  Future Scenarios

PDF file icon  From West Yorkshire to Whitehall

PDF file icon  Portland Revisited

PDF file icon  Project Wrap-Up

Read about Shaun's research in the Hebden Bridge factsheet PDF file icon

A blog "Upper Calder Valley: Floods" by Jenny Shepherd, local resident of Hebden Bridge, provides details of the activities and discussions in the stakeholder workshops.

Southwell e-Bulletins

PDF file icon   The project in 300 words (December 2014)

PDF file icon   What went before - Hebden Bridge (Jan 2015)

PDF file icon   Causal loop diagrams (Feb 2015)

PDF file icon   Thinking about Risk (Feb 2015)

PDF file icon    System Dynamics (March 2015)

PDF file icon    Behind the scenes 1 (March 2015)

PDF file icon   Belford Burn (April 2015)

PDF file icon   Futures (May 2015)

Read the Southwell factsheet PDF file icon

Blue-Green Cities Research Project

Sir Clive Granger Building,
University of Nottingham,
University Park,
Nottingham, NG7 2RD.

Tel. 0115 8468137