A flood of concerns

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Jon Gibson
Upstream Sustainability Services

So what’s going on with all of this rain in the UK recently, happily ruining most of my summer plans and those of others, but I guess it’s ok the hosepipe ban has been lifted. Every cloud has a silver lining. I don’t mind rain, in fact it has made our country an even greener and more pleasant land than usual at this time of year, however, enough is enough.

These rainy times do leave me concerned.  As we are all aware this is no freak weather system or one off, some researchers have cited a systematic change in the climate coinciding with unprecedented summer arctic ice melt.  The future prospect of sipping summer drinks in a warming Britain is now far from my mind, this inclement weather is a dawning reality in which we all need to adapt to live in quickly, now, not tomorrow or when we feel like getting around to it. 

So what does all this mean for us? The expiration of the ABI statement of principles (an insurance industry pact with government) at the end of June 2013 is likely to see more buildings facing higher insurance premiums.  This fact, coupled with a 25% cut by the government to the budget for flood defences shows that we are heading in the wrong direction. 

Even more sobering, 1 in 7 households by 2035 will face some degree of risk from flooding.  We are now faced with the prospect of a move to a free market insurance model, where premiums are priced purely by the assessment of risk and driven by competition.  UK properties already suffer approximately £1.3bn in annual damage from water and sea flooding, not to mention localised flooding incidents by the country’s ageing infrastructure.  So with the risk of flooding on the increase it’s clear that insurers and property owners are going to need to utilise accurate data to assess flood risk if they are going to compete effectively and manage their risk and exposure properly.

As we know along with extreme cases of war and famine, flooding is an all too common occurrence on our news reports, but when things hot up again in the glorious British sunshine the shocking images are quickly forgotten and we all move on.  Adequate and affordable insurance for our homes and businesses, vastly increased government spending on new flood defences and maintenance for existing ones, sensible town planning and responsible development away from flood plains would go some way to alleviate my concerns.  Until this panacea arrives I fear the now familiar scenes of swans swimming along our high streets and inundated homes will repeat itself.

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