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Joint ABI and Flood Re report highlights UK flood risks and need for maintenance of defences

A joint report published by the Association of British Insurers (ABI) and Flood Re highlights the vital need to maintain the UK’s flood defences in good condition. Flooding is the greatest natural disaster risk in the UK and is rising with six of the ten wettest years on record occurring since 1998.

The report, ‘Modelling the Impact of Spending on Defence Maintenance on Flood Losses’, was carried out by flood risk specialists JBA Risk Management. JBA evaluated the benefits of maintaining flood defences over a 30-year period for several different spending scenarios.

Key findings from the research highlight that:

  • River flood defences provide protection to flood risk communities valued at £568 million a year. Without such defences the research suggests flood losses of approximately £958 million a year. With defences, inland flood losses reduce to £388 million a year, saving £568 million.
  • Flood defence maintenance is very cost effective - for every £1 increase in maintenance spending almost £7 is saved in capital spending on defences. The report highlights that increasing current maintenance spending by 50 percent could extend the lifespan of defences by an average of eight years.
  • Well-funded flood defences rarely breach. As long as a flood defence does not deteriorate to, and remain in, a poor condition, then it is unlikely to breach – which is why it is so important that flood defences are maintained in a good condition. Conversely, if maintenance spending is cut, flood defence lifespan reduces, and overall annual costs will rise.
  • Based on the current state of existing flood defences, London and the South East have the highest estimated annual flood loss with 30 percent (£117. 4m) of the total, followed by North West at 11 percent, central Scotland 8 percent.

While this report focuses on flood defences and the important role they play in reducing the impact of flooding, with the country’s surface water flood risk increasing it is important to ensure that other flood risk management measures, such as clearing culverts, are also funded appropriately.

More details (PDF).



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