Improving Flood Resilience in the UK: Ensuring UK Flood Preparedness in a Changing Climate

Tuesday, October 19, 2021 - 09:30 to 13:00

The Energy & Climate Institute predicts by the 2050s, 2.6 million people will be living in areas that are at significant risk to flooding. In December 2015, parts of the UK were devastated by record-breaking levels of rainfall as a result of Storm Desmond. Britain experienced the wettest February on record in 2020 due to the succession of Storm’s Dennis, Ciara and George, which left thousands of homes flooded and many more without power.  This year, Storm Christoph flooded over 675 properties across England and Wales, and more recently, devastating flooding in Germany and Belgium have led to hundreds of deaths. The Committee on Climate Change have warned on serval occasion over the last decade, that despite additional investment, plans and actions to address increasing risk are lacking. 

In July 2020, the Government and Environment Agency announced a new £5.2 billion flood prevention and coastal management strategy to be brought in over the next 10 years, including protection of 336,000 properties in England by 2027. As well as this, additional funding of £200 million will help communities most at risk of flooding recover faster in cases where they are affected by flood damage. These announcements have also followed the National Flood and Coastal Erosion Risk Management Strategy (NFCERMS) which in part aims to help local authorities better communicate the risk of flooding to their communities. Furthermore, the Flood Re scheme, which was launched in 2016, designed to improve the availability and affordability of household insurance policies for people living in high flood risk areas, has been recently modified to include a ‘Build Back Better’ programme to pay claims that include resilient or resistant repairs, as well as flood damage. 

Significant progress has subsequently been made since the original NFCERMS was published in 2011. Risk management authorities, working with local partners, will have invested £2.6 billion of government funding in flood and coastal risk management, better protecting 300,000 homes between 2015 and 2021. However, as future climate projections predict increased and extreme weather variability, questions remain over the extent to which the nation is prepared for severe flooding. The Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Select Committee’s has recently called Ministers to address the current lack of long-term recovery support for flooded communities and collaborate with charities to develop guidance to engage local people with risk management and planning authorities. Additionally, the Flood Re scheme does excludes commercial properties and does not cover all domestic properties. Long-term funding is also needed to commit to the maintenance of existing and future defences, and to support local authorities as they attempt to develop flood projections into planning and development decisions.

This timely symposium will provide an opportunity for all stakeholders engaged in improving flood resilience to assess the current policies to tackle this matter and develop new strategies to improve the national policy apparatus.