Properties must be reinstated as flood resilient say experts

Industry specialists are urging Government to introduce regulations to require properties hit by flooding to be reinstated with products that would protect from future flood events.

Flood Shops will help consumers choose products to make their homes resilient

Items like closing air bricks, flood proof doors, non return valves in pipe work to prevent backwash from sewers and water resistant plaster should be required as standard when insurers assess costs of repairs, they said.


“What stands out most strongly in the Somerset Levels Action Plan,” says Peter Brett associate and flood risk partner Ben Mitchell “is the almost complete lack of discussion about climate change impact. There is one mention in the whole document. To me what we do about the Levels has to be on the basis of climate change. Is there long term justification to keep protecting the area, are the proposals sustainable for the future? We need a strategy for the long term or the money would be better spent in a different area. Commitment to the tidal barrage would mean there is good potential for future sustainability for instance.  Indications that the roads are to be repaired to resist future flooding and at raised levels are all good. But there could be a compromise in future perhaps for partial retreat and local defence of each community. Some of the real meat of the document is in Section 2 of the plan entitled “Complex, interrelated and unfunded which talks about the creation of temporary flood storage and construction of ring bank flood protection.”

“I firmly believe we should reinstate any home flooded into a more resilient state. Property owners would benefit from it and the country as a whole would benefit from having property stock that is upgraded for climate resilience,” said chief executive of the Association of Drainage Authorities Jean Venables.

 “But that will require a change in regulations – most likely the building regulations – to require insurers and property owners to do more than just replace like with like after a flooding incident.

“It would not be over regulation, it would be putting in place proper standards,” she said.

Peter Brett associate and flood risk partner Ben Mitchell said owners need to be more aware of the options to upgrade their own homes and properties. “Even if insurers will only replace like for like there is always the option to upgrade to a higher standard yourself, “ he said.

Managing director of UK flood defence manufacturer UK Flood Barriers said that two thirds of flood insurance claims were the result of surface water flash flooding and reiterated the call for regulations to improve the resistance of UK property to the devasating impact of even a small inundation.

At a UK Flood Barriers parliamentary reception  - "Britain prepared - a flood resilient society" - attended by floods minister Dan Rogerson on Tuesday the company launched its UK Flood Advisory Service intended to help property owners find out what products were available to help make their home more resilient. "We are in active talks with councils in Cornwall and Gloucestershire to set up "shops" in flood hit communities to help them understand how the Repair and Renewal Grant of up to £5000 which is being launched on 1 April can be most sensibly invested," said UK Flood Aware managing director Sarah Vaughan.

At the event which was supported by Infrastructure Intelligence, UK Flood Aware chief executive Frank Kelly urged consultants to design in flood defence right at the start of projects. "We have the best designers in the world, but are we designing enough to accommodate climate change. Flood defence still seems to be an after thought."

Somerset Plan

The calls came a few days after publication of the Somerset Levels and Moors Flood Action Plan drawn up at the request of Environment Secretary Owen Paterson in the wake of the final realisation of just how devastating the winters floods were for the region.

The plan bows to the experts and commits to dredging 8km of the Rivers Tone and Parrett to their 1960s river profile by autumn 2014 to increase their drainage capacity.

Other measures include:  increasing capacity of the Sowy/King Sedgemoor Drains; installation of permanent pumping stations at key points; repair by Somerset County Council of 44km of ruined road by March 2015; repair by the Environment Agency and Internal Drainage Boards of over topped riverbanks and spillways by March 2015; a review of dredging across the Levels and establishment of a Somerset Rivers Board to maintain and improve water management on the Levels.

More in the long grass is a proposal to accelerate construction of a barrage or sluice at Bridgewater by 2024.

Government has committed over £20M to the new defence plan - £10M from Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, £10M from the Department for Transport and £0.5M from Department for Communities and Local Government.

The action plan can be viewed here

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