Flood resilience for all infrastructure by 2050 – that is part of the vision set out by a new flood and coastal resilience strategy which has been welcomed by the likes of Flood Re.
Launched by Environment Agency (EA) chair Emma Howard Boyd in London, the long-term strategy for England outlined the need not only for an average of £1 billion to be invested annually in traditional flood and coastal defences and natural flood management but also for consistent standards for flood and coastal resilience nationwide.
An eight-week consultation on the strategy, whose recommendations include requiring flooding and coastal change projects to support local economic regeneration, has been opened. Based on the responses, the Environment Agency will come up with a final document that will be laid before Parliament in winter 2019.
Commenting on the initiative, Flood Re chief executive Andy Bord said in a statement: “Flood Re welcomes the Environment Agency’s new long-term strategy to tackle flooding and coastal change which aligns with our own long-term goals and plans.
“The £1 billion a year of investment is essential. The strategy’s recognition of the vital importance of flood resistance and resilience for the UK’s housing stock – to reduce both the overall number of homes flooded and the damage where flooding does occur – echoes a key aspect of our own Transition Plan.”
Association of British Insurers director general Huw Evans concurs, saying the minimum yearly amount is necessary to support the agency’s plan to protect vital infrastructure and property.
“Climate change is dramatically increasing the risk of flooding in the UK and there are potentially drastic consequences for homes, businesses, and communities if we fail to take action,” commented Evans, who believes the lack of major floods in recent years is no cause for complacency.
“As well as building defences we need to increase awareness of flood risk and encourage home and business owners to put in place their own measures to protect their properties too.”
According to the proposed plan, all new development between now and 2030 must be resilient to flooding and coastal change, given that properties built in the flood plain are forecast to double over the next 50 years due to population growth and climate change.
Meanwhile also offering his insights on the risk management strategy was Nicolas Aubert, head of Great Britain at Willis Towers Watson.
“It is significant that the Environment Agency is preparing for the likelihood of a 4°C temperature rise,” noted Aubert. “Willis Towers Watson commends the comprehensive approach that the EA is promoting via the consultation to meet the challenges this will bring to our economy, communities, and natural assets.
“The financial sector must redouble its efforts to address climate risks and, working with the public sector, support the investment and other interventions needed to deliver national and local resilience, now, and in the decades ahead.”
Calling for more to be done to encourage property owners to “build back better” following a flood, the strategy will also see the EA work with insurers, financial institutions, and the government to review how to bring about this change by 2025.
Bord himself pointed to the importance of collaborative work, adding: “Flood Re will continue to work with the insurance industry and government to ensure that those living in high flood risk areas can access affordable and available insurance as the threat of flooding grows.”
To date, Flood Re has helped over 200,000 households in high flood risk areas get affordable home insurance.