Closes 31 Dec 2027

Opened 21 Sep 2023


Fens 2100+ is a new programme of work, launched in summer 2023, to enable the Fens to adapt to the challenges of climate change – both now and into the future. This work will look at the ‘adaptive approach’ needed to manage this catchment to balance the needs of people, the environment and agriculture for the next 100 years.   

This is the place to learn more about how we can work together to develop that adaptive approach to managing flood risk in the Fens.

The Fens 

The Fens and Coastal lowlands, located across parts of Norfolk, Cambridgeshire and Lincolnshire is 5000km2 of historically swamp, marsh and wetland. 

It is an entirely unnatural landscape – we can only live and work here because of the way it is managed by the Environment Agency and Internal Drainage Boards (IDBs). As the Fens and coastal lowlands are very low lying, continuous ‘flood risk management’ is required. Careful management reduces the risk to the local area, including 370,000ha of agricultural land, 400,000 people and 500km of road and rail infrastructure. 

The Fens hold significant agricultural importance as it's home to over 50% of England’s Grade 1 agricultural land providing a fifth of the nation’s crops and a third of its vegetables. Often referred to as the “breadbasket of Britain”, this industry employs 80,000 people in the agricultural food chain. 

What else makes the Fens unique? 

  • The location and landscape mean the Fens is at the forefront of climate change, whilst simultaneously managing issues such as sea level rise, drought, and flood risk. 

  • The Oxford-Cambridge Arc – a cross-Government portfolio designed to unlock the economic and innovation potential of the area between Oxford and Cambridge with a focus on local growth and technology. 

  • Outside of the towns and cities, the Fens has pockets of rural deprivation and social issues associated with a challenging infrastructure. 

Fens 2100+  

Fens 2100+ is a new programme of work, launched in summer 2023, to enable the Fens to adapt to the challenges of climate change – both now and into the future. This work will look at the adaptive approach needed to manage this catchment to balance the needs of people, the environment and agriculture for the next 100 years.  

"Ensure we invest in the right thing, in the right place and at the right time"

Map of the Fens sub catchments

Map showing the catchments covered by the Fens 2100+ Programme

The aims of Fens 2100+ 

Building on the strategic work completed for the Future Fens Flood Risk Management Baseline Report (2020) for the Great Ouse, the aims are split into 3 projects: 

  • By March 2025 develop an Adaptation Investment Decision Making Framework at a landscape scale for the Fens and coastal lowlands, with a planning horizon of 2100+ 

  • By March 2027 develop 5 Adaptation Pathway Blueprints at a catchment scale, with a planning horizon of 2050+. By September 2026 develop Investment Plans with a horizon of 2033+ 

  • By September 2025 develop Baseline Reports at a catchment scale, covering: East Coast Lowlands, Steeping, Lower Witham, Lower Welland, Lower Nene, and Great Ouse (update to the 2020 report) 

This timeline ensures investment plans are ready in time to inform the next programme of spending on flood risk management – the 2027-2033 Flood & Coastal Erosion Risk Management Investment Plan. 

Read about the current (2021-2027) Flood & Coastal Erosion Risk Management Investment Plan. 

What's an adaptive approach?

An adaptive approach takes a flexible approach to investment which can adapt to changes when they occur, such as, new areas of growth or changes to climate change predictions. It will involve developing investment plans which confirm what flood and coastal risk management investment will be required over the next 20 years across the Fens.   

The investment plans developed through Fens 2100+ will inform future Environment Agency capital programmes from 2027.  

This strategy for investment across the Fens will inform funding, future efficiencies and partnerships and support the delivery of projects that aim to reduce the risk of flooding from rivers, sea, groundwater or surface water and/or to reduce the risks from coastal erosion. 

Read about British Standard Adaptation to climate change – Using adaptation pathways for decision making guide which helps organisations create long-term plans and make decisions within the uncertainty and risks of a changing climate. 

Why 2100+?

Looking out to 2100 and beyond, we need to help local places better plan and adapt to future flooding and coastal change. This will mean being agile to the latest climate science, growth projections, investment opportunities and other changes to our local environment. Adaptative approaches enable local places to better plan for future flooding and coastal change and adapt to future climate hazards. 

As a nation we need to improve the way we integrate adaptation to flooding and coastal change into daily activities and projects, as well as long-term strategic investment plans and strategies for places and catchments. By doing so we can better equip practitioners and policy makers to make the best decisions, taken at the right time to benefit people, infrastructure, the economy and the environment. 

Who is leading this work and who else is involved?

Partnership working is core to the programme design. The Environment Agency is leading the programme in collaboration with Internal Drainage Boards across the Fens, and working closely with: the Future Fens Integrated Adaptation Taskforce; the Association of Drainage Authorities; Water Resources East; National Farmers Union; and the Anglian Northern and Great Ouse Regional Flood and Coastal Committees. 

Will new flood risk management assets be created?

Although Fens 2100+ will not directly create any assets, the investment plans developed through this programme will: 

- Inform future spending (capital and revenue) programmes 

- Drive future efficiencies and realise wider benefits for people, places or the economy 

- Support collaboration and partnership working  

To find out more about the flood risk management assets and schemes in your area of interest, visit the Environment Agency’s asset management interactive map: Asset Information and Maintenance Programme (data.gov.uk)  


Engaging with you

We'll share further information and updates as the Programme develops.

We'll be engaging with stakeholders throughout the Fens - please get in touch if you would like to find out more Fens2100@environment-agency.gov.uk


  • Recreational and commercial river users
  • Fishing clubs and representative associations
  • Members of the public with an interest in the river, the species and conservation
  • Businesses
  • Charities
  • Statutory organisations
  • NGOs
  • Members of the public
  • Elected representatives, including MPs
  • Local councils
  • Academics
  • IDBs
  • Local authorities
  • District and parish councils
  • Environmental bodies
  • Land owners
  • Farming associations
  • Drainage associations
  • RFCCs
  • Elected representatives, including MPs
  • Water companies
  • Members of the public
  • Recreational and commercial river users
  • Community groups
  • Flood action groups
  • Environment Agency colleagues
  • Lead Local Flood Authorities
  • Local Risk Management Authorities
  • Flood Resilience Forums
  • Members of the public
  • Town and parish councils
  • Regional Flood and Coastal Committees
  • Internal Drainage Boards
  • Engagement specialists/operational staff in Natural Resources Wales, local authorities and other risk management authorities


  • Business and industry
  • Flood management
  • Coastal management
  • Fishing and boating
  • Water resources
  • Water quality
  • Drought
  • Habitats and wildlife