There are around 260,000 business units, employing 3.2 million people, located in ‘flood-risk’ areas in the UK, with the situation set to worsen as the climate changes.

A recent survey carried out by the Federation of Small Businesses revealed that two-thirds of small businesses had been affected by severe weather such as flooding in the past three years alone. Three quarters of businesses did not have a plan in place to deal with these incidents.

As part of its Flood Action campaign, the Environment Agency has therefore developed three recommendations for businesses to protect themselves from flooding this year.

1) Sign-up for free flood warnings for the area

2) Develop a business flood plan

3) Complete a free business resilience healthcheck and get a personalised report on how your business can prepare for flooding and severe weather 

Charlie Corbishley, the climate ready manager at the Environment Agency, said: “All businesses would benefit from having a business continuity plan in place which includes severe weather. If your business is resilient to a changing climate it will be more attractive to investors.”

Lesson learned

As part of the campaign, UK food company Greencore – which employs more than 11,000 people and supplies all the major supermarket chains in the UK – is sharing its own experience of flood damage.

The company was hit by severe flooding in October 2000, when more than a metre of water flowed through its Selby factory, resulting in damage which led to a multi-million pound insurance claim. The company also had to relocate the majority of its workforce to Manchester in order to continue production. 

David Murtagh, the divisional environment manager at Greencore, said: “The lessons that we learned from the severe weather of October 2000 were to have a more robust business continuity plan and to work more closely with the Environment Agency to access crucial information when flooding occurs.”

In 2013-14, the wettest winter on record saw 3,200 commercial properties flooded and 7,700 homes flooded. The costs to businesses are still being counted, but are estimated to run into tens of thousands of pounds for each business.

Brad Allen

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