Spending on flood defences in the UK will increase by £2bn over the next four years, almost doubling the current investment, but not everyone was happy with the announcement, which formed part of the UK's Spending Review.
“Today’s announcement, made amongst news of deep spending cuts, represents a significant step forwards," commented Helen Dewar, a senior analyst at risk modeller RMS. “It has been recognised that not only do current defences need to be maintained, but more are needed to deal with increasing flood risk from growing property exposure in high-hazard areas and the impact of changes to land use.”
In the review, the Government committed to spending £2bn on flood defences over four years, between 2011 and 2015. This compares with £2.15bn over three years, between 2008 and 2011, according to previous measures.
Some insurers are less than happy with the announcement. Simon Douglas, director of AA Insurance, is concerned that spending will not be maintained at current levels. “There is no doubt that Britain’s climate is changing and...we are seeing increasing numbers of claims for flash floods in areas where there is no previous history of flooding. This suggests that both spending on draining surface water at a local level is inadequate and that localised severe weather events are increasing in both frequency and severity.”
According to RMS analysis, as many as one in four homes in Britain is at risk of flooding caused by excessive rainfall and rivers overflowing. Spatial analysis by RMS shows that approximately £600 billion of residential building value is exposed to flood risk.
Taking account of all types of flood risk, RMS estimates insured losses of £2.5 billion on average every 25 years (that is to say there is a 0.04% probability of a £2.5 billion loss in any year).