Building the case for flood defences
14 April 2011, News release from UK Flood Barriers Limited
Flood risk is a particular problem for the UK and it is anticipated that this phenomenon is going to be an increasing burden on our society in the coming years.
The two primary causes are the unpredictable consequences of climate change resulting in increased severity and intensity of rainfall, and the impact of new developments which are taking place on floodplains, which are themselves at risk of flooding, and which increase the risk of flooding downstream.
Some alarming statistics abound and it is estimated that:
- 1.5% of the country is at risk from direct flooding from the sea
- About 7% of the country is likely to flood at least once every 100 years from rivers
- 1.7m homes and 130,000 commercial properties, worth more than £200 billion, are at risk from river or coastal flooding in England
- Many more properties are also at risk from flash floods.
The effects of flooding, and managing flood risk, costs the UK around £2.2 billion each year and we currently spending around £800 million per annum on flood and coastal defences.
Even with the UK's current level of flood defences in place, as an economy we experience an average of £1,400 million of damages per annum and in this scenario, it is anticipated that a building is more likely to flood than it is to burn down.
It is interesting that in the UK we seem have strangely ambivalent approach to flood prevention, not only from a consumer perspective but at a professional level where it seems that the threat from flooding has not been given a true perspective and where the understanding of what can be done to mitigate against the effects of flood is fairly negligible.
The reality is that homes, businesses and communities can all be fully protected by available flood defence products but we need a better understand of how to go about solving the problem.
There can be as many as eight different ways that flood water can enter a building. All properties are vulnerable to flooding through doorways, airbricks, weepholes and cavity walls, through porous and poorly pointed brickwork and through sewage and drainage pipes.
Without proper flood defence protection, flood water can quickly overwhelm a property leaving it defenceless, rendered worthless and with a potentially huge clean up bill.
UK Flood Barriers is the UK's leading provider of total flood defence solutions, and through its Flood Angel range of products, which have been designed, tested and manufactured, many to BSI quality standards, we are able to offer a comprehensive range of permanent defence solutions to protect all vulnerable areas of a premises.
Working in partnership with councils and housing associations to provide permanent flood prevention solutions, we recognise that a vast repertoire of property exists in the market place and that in the arena of effective flood protection, there is no 'one product fits all' solution. This is illustrated by our approach to the development of a flood prevention plan with Bromford Housing.
In May 2009 we undertook flood protection to a number of properties for Bromford Housing near Leominster. This involved installing custom made flood barriers to doorways and airbrick replacements for automatic protection.
As soon as the order was received, we immediately began work with Bromford's in-house surveyors, and arranged access to the properties directly with the residents. Whilst we do not always need to gain access to a property, as much of the work is carried out externally, our objective of gaining the cooperation of residents is paramount.
One of the challenges we face is in getting the residents to understand that whilst the actual property may not belong to them, the belongings inside the property are their responsibility and it is down to them to take responsibility for deploying the defences, and looking after them properly. The risk is that since they are not having to pay for them, they may not care for them in the same way that someone who has paid for them will.
Our objective is to work alongside you to make the 'community £' more cost effective and to ensure the continued longevity of your housing stock and our community assets.
We go to great lengths explain the programme of works that we undertake, so that the householder understands what is involved and how long the works will take to their property. Our fitters give a training session to the residents and demonstrate how to deploy the barriers, encouraging them to put the barrier on themselves. When the installation is complete, we also train the residents in how to care for the products that have been provided, to ensure that they are maintained in good working condition.
Again, a little know fact - for every £1 that is spent on flood defence it will save £7 on restoration and clean up costs and that constitutes a very well spent "community £".
As the flood defence industry is rapidly changing, as an organisation we are committed to continuous improvement of our product ranges and to the challenge of finding more exciting and creative ways to improve the lives of our customers by minimizing the potentially disastrous consequences of flooding.
We undertake extensive market research establish customer needs, gaining feedback and improving our understanding of what the real flood defense issues are so that our production processes are kept as efficient as possible and a keen eye is kept on maintaining superb quality and technical superiority for all our products.
A significant investment in our R&D facility indicates our willingness to forgo current operations and profit to improve future performance and returns, and reflects our ability to conduct research and development in this fast growing market.
To meet the challenge of providing for next generation flood protection we have recently made further investment in our test rig which has increased in size to 85,000 litres and which test rig has recently gained British Standard Institute (BSI) approval. This accreditation will allow us to continue to push the boundaries and support innovation which will benefit our customers.
For further information please email UK Flood Barriers Limited