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What areas of the UK are at risk of flooding?
The effects of a flood can be devastating and cause huge losses, including damage to building stock, essential facilities, transport systems, and project deadlines. What are the real risks of flooding and what can I do to prevent it?
According to Aviva data* nearly 1 in 3 commercial properties are at risk of flooding. Despite this data, 75% of SMEs do not have a continuity plan that addresses climate change and its risks. Just 38% of businesses have flood insurance, and less than a 5th have put protective measures in place.
At this early stage, it seems that we will not be in for a very cold winter. There are also no predictions for above-average rainfall this year, although experts say it’s too early to tell, and there will be regional differences. The likelihood of being taken by surprise is also much lower nowadays because weather and surge forecasting systems have improved greatly in recent years.
That said, as we saw in 2021, and in previous years, the UK frequently sees deluges that deliver rapidly rising water levels in some areas, in very short timescales. During Storm Barra in December 2021, areas of the UK recorded 14mm falling in just three hours!
Is the UK getting wetter?
The UK has seen many other big flooding events since the start of the 21st century**. The global temperature has risen by about 0.7 °C since pre-industrial times and a warmer atmosphere can hold more moisture. Many studies into heavy rainfall events and flooding in the UK found that the probability of flooding or sudden extreme rainfall is enhanced by atmospheric circulation and climate change.
Britain’s largest recorded rainfall was 10 years ago. The jet stream tended to lie to the south of the UK through much of that year and resulted in low-pressure systems bringing rain and strong winds. That the Summer UK experienced 203% of the average rainfall for the UK.
Should I check whether I’m at risk of flooding?
You can sign up for alerts on either the Environmental Agency or Met Office sites and subscribe to alerts that affect your area of the UK. You can also use this service to keep an eye on an area important to you – perhaps where you have vulnerable friends or family, or perhaps even a family home.
Rest assured, the government is doing its bit. In the 2020 budget, the UK Government doubled its investment in flood and coastal erosion scheme construction in England. They committed a record £5.2 billion to be invested between 1 April 2021 and 31 March 2027. More information on the UK Government’s flood and coastal erosion risk management (FCERM) scheme, is available here. Existing EA flood defences have helped to protect nearly 200,000 properties during flooding incidents since 2019; the most obvious measures including flood walls, embankments, and barriers, which have reinforced UK waterways.
Which areas are at high risk of flooding?
Tidal flooding, particularly in a century that’s already seeing rising sea levels, can result in the gradual destruction of sea defences and the loss of permanent homes to the sea. Areas of the UK particularly vulnerable to this type of flooding include:
- East coast areas – particularly Peterborough, Hull, and Great Yarmouth
- Kent and Sussex coastal areas. Some areas have been protected through “managed realignment”, which means that some areas of land are surrendered back to the sea, to reduce the risk of flooding in alternative areas, a strategy used in Medmerry in West Sussex.
Properties located near rivers are doubly at risk when the weather turns wet and the seasons stormy: tidal surges coming upriver from the sea, as well as rivers bursting their banks from significant rainfall over a short, sudden period. Areas of the UK at particular risk include but are by no means limited to:
- Essex: Burnham-on-Crouch
- Kent: New Romney, Gillingham, and Rochester
- Cambridgeshire: Peterborough and Holbeach.
- Lincolnshire: Woodhall Spa, Boston, Skegness, Scunthorpe, Sandtoft
- Norfolk: Great Yarmouth.
- Sussex: Adur and Arun
- Somerset: Glastonbury, Bridgewater, and Highbridge
- Yorkshire: Knottingley and Hull.
Floodplains and surface water
Surface water flooding happens when the rainfall exceeds the capacity of drains and other surface water sewers. Areas that are frequently affected by surface water floods are:
- Lincoln, Gainsborough, Boothby Graffoe, Cleethorpes in Lincolnshire.
Financial help for those affected by flooding
If you are affected by flooding, consult your local authority to see whether you are eligible for Council Tax Relief and Business Rate Relief. Following periods of extreme flooding, the UK Government often makes special grants and funding available.
What measures can I put in place if I am worried about flooding?
You can check the long-term flood risk of an area here on the government website: www.gov.uk/check-long-term-flood-risk. Once you have identified your site at risk of flooding then we advise that you put a contingency plan in place.
We provide a range of flood defence systems to help you to ensure the safety of your property, staff, and customers. If the worst has already happened and you, then you may find the following articles useful:
- ‘Prepare. Act. Survive’ – Your 3-step plan for protecting your premises from flooding.
- ‘Sandbags versus plastic flood barriers‘.
Our team understands that when you contact us, you may not know what it is specifically that you need. We offer free no obligation quotes for this reason. We will help you navigate the options available and propose the right solution for you. We operate and deliver nationwide.
Sources: * Aviva Flood Mapping Data 2016-2021, **Elsevier
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