CCC: Little progress made on limiting flood risk

There has been limited progress on reducing flood risk in the UK and the rate of deployment would "have to increase by a factor of 20" if the cost effective potential is to be exploited, says the Committee on Climate Change.

In a letter to the Secretary of State for environment, food and rural affairs, Owen Paterson, the chairman of the Adaptation Sub-Committee to the Committee on Climate Change, Professor Lord Krebs, said that despite the Committee’s advice on the opportunities to limit flood risk through the fitting of low-cost measures at the property level, progress to date has been limited.

Lord Krebs argues that the Government’s Flood Re scheme, which aims to protect homes in England and Wales from flooding, offers the opportunity to strengthen incentives for the uptake of household flood risk protection measures “but is not currently designed to do this”.

This flaw in the scheme means Flood Re costs will be “higher than they need to be and at the expense of householders funding the programme through the industry levy”.

The letter provides a list of suggestions to reduce flood risk, which includes building flood risk awareness into the Flood Re scheme and creating positive incentives to help households mitigate flood risk.

Businesses have also been given a wake up call to the risk of flooding this week with new research by the Environment Agency revealing that last year’s record-breaking wet year in England could have cost the UK economy close to £600m.

The overall financial cost to businesses of the extreme weather was up to £200m as total commercial property and contents damage totalled up to £84m. Further indirect impacts, such as staff working days lost, hit companies and local economies for up to £33m.

The research also found that flooding occurred one in every five days last year affecting over 7,000 properties.

It also found that every affected business was setback an average £60,000. However, flood defences protected 200,000 properties – worth up to £1.7bn to the UK economy.

In England and Wales, 175,000 businesses are at risk of flooding and, in a recent survey, one in five members of the Federation of Small Businesses said flooding had had a negative impact on their company over the past 12 months.

Leigh Stringer

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