Flood risk is business opportunity, says Environment Agency boss

The chairman of the Environment Agency has urged British industry to take the initiative on developing and marketing technology that will help to protect homes from flooding.

Lord Chris Smith also said that building merchants and DIY stores should promote these products and offer advice to both the trade and general public.

Speaking at the National Flood Forum annual conference in Birmingham, Lord Smith said that industry could help make recovery from flooding a less painful experience.

He cited the experience of Appleby in Cumbria in showing the effectiveness of flood protection products.

During the floods of last November, 46 properties in the town which had received individual flood protection barriers under a Defra-funded pilot scheme remained dry despite a torrent of water cascading past their front doors.

Lord Smith said one in six properties are at some risk of flooding.

"At present there are over 2.6 million properties in England and Wales at risk from flooding from rivers and the sea, and over 2.9 million properties at risk from flooding from surface water, including over one million at risk from both," he said.

"Forewarned is forearmed, and the best way to recover from flooding is to prepare for it: at both a property and business level, and as a community.

"I would like to see industry develop new, innovative products that can be installed in homes and businesses to reduce the risk of flooding. Climate change is likely to increase the frequency and severity of flooding, and the UK could be the global market leader on technologies to counter the impacts that it brings.

"We can also encourage people to make improvements so that even if flood water enters their home or business it causes less damage, meaning moving back in is quicker. DIY and building merchants could also help here by providing advice or by stocking advice leaflets, so choices are made as renovations take place."

Fitting water resistant skirting boards, laying tiles on the floor rather than rugs or carpets, and using water resistant materials such as stainless steel in the kitchen can help make drying out and cleaning up faster and easier.

Sam Bond



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