Flooding is becoming an increasing environmental issue across the UK. The combination of climate change, coastal erosion and urban living means that over the last few years more homes and businesses are requiring flood protection.
Government agencies and environmental partnership groups are now working together more than ever to try to put future-proof plans in place to reduce the incidence of flooding. They are also raising the awareness of how much at risk everyone is – no matter whether their location is close to coastal or river areas or not, through a number of media-led information initiatives.
Why there is a need to raise awareness of the need for flood protection in the UK
The cost of the floods of the winter of 2013/2014 reached over £1 billion in insurance claims and government emergency funding to repair infrastructures. Add in the fact that 2.4 million homes are at risk of flood at any time of the year, it is incredibly important that everyone understands the changes which are happening within the environment, how they affect their lives and what needs to be done to be prepared.
Flood Map for Planning
The Flood Map for Planning is a tool which can be used to find out if a property is located in an area of risk. The results categorise every postcode to either:
- High; greater than 1 in 30 chance in any given year of flooding taking place
- Medium; less than 1 in 30 but more than or equal to 1 in a 100 chance
- Low; less than 1 in 100 but more than or equal to 1 in a 1000 chance
- Very low; less than 1 in a 1000 chance
By using the Flood Map for Planning, those looking to relocate can find out more about the geographical make-up of the area. It’s also important for existing households to have an insight into the risk of where they currently live and to put plans in place if needed for flood protection.
The map gives in-depth information about floodplains and shows where they are located. It also marks rivers and where sea defences are located. For planning purposes it is a way of investigating whether the local authority would grant permission for new build of dwellings, or any restrictions which could be put in place when permission is granted.
Ways to find out about flood risks
Together with the Flood Map for Planning, there are now a number of accessible ways to quickly find out if flooding is imminent.
The Floodline for England and Wales gives information regarding the current flood risk situation and also flood warnings for the next 3 days. Data is also available for groundwater risks as well as the levels of rivers and seas.
It is also now possible to contact the Environment Agency to see if there is a history of flooding around a property. The Land Registry will also provide information called a ‘flood risk indicator’ on request.
An easy to understand warning system which is used by the media to heighten awareness of flooding is the Flood Warnings guide. Divided into different status groups, the risk levels are colour coded:
- Red; severe flood warning – danger to life
- Amber; flooding is expected – immediate action required
- Yellow; flooding is possible – be prepared
Scotland; the work of SEPA
The main government body looking at the challenge of flooding in Scotland is the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA). There are unique issues to investigate due to the huge stretches of rugged coastline which are battered each year by storm surges from the Atlantic on the west and the North Sea on the east. They also have the island groups of the Shetlands and the Orkneys to provide coastal management to as well as working to put solutions in place for the preservation of ancient archaeological locations on the islands.
To raise the profile of their work and to give up to date information, SEPA also has a service called Floodline. A number which can be called 24 hours a day, it gives live information regarding current or imminent flood threats. The public can also sign up online for news and information regarding expected or current flooding and advice as to how to protect their homes and families.
Armed with live information which is available through a huge range of mediums means that it’s now possible to know about any dangers well in advance of them taking place.
Waiting for a flood warning to be announced though doesn’t mean not taking action to protect the home before then. Whether living on a floodplain, next to the sea or even in an area classified as low risk, it’s worth having a flood protection system ready to deploy.
Environmental agencies around the whole of the UK are dedicated to managing the effects of climate change. Through their management plans and public initiatives, it can only be a positive thing that by raising awareness of the problems of flooding then when an emergency strikes everyone is informed, knowledgeable and ready to take action.