A shocking 90% of the country's floodplains are not fit for purpose, according to a new study.
An in-depth scientific study by Co-op Insurance has found nine tenths of England’s floodplains, which store the water from over-flown rivers, have changed to such a degree that they ‘no longer work properly.’
Conducted over a 12 month period with the University of Salford, the analysis found semi-natural woodland and rough grassland together now only occupy 6% of floodplain area.
The research also discovered wetland communities - fen, marsh and swamp - have been reduced to less than 0.5% of the total floodplain area.
‘As a result,’ according to a summary of the findings, ‘the velocity at which water flows across floodplains has increased significantly, resulting in towns and villages flooding more quickly.’
‘This type of vegetation is important as it acts as a buffer to help slow the flow of water across land.’
Over five million people are at risk of flooding in the UK. The country’s most recent severe flood occurred in the winter of 2015 with Storm Desmond, which hit more than 6,000 homes and hundreds of communities.
The Co-op’s findings follow a report from the environment, food and rural affairs committee which criticised the Government’s ‘sub-standard’ approach to sustainable drainage (SuDs) for failing to protect communities from flood risk.