Monday, May 28, 2012

Annual flooding losses set to reach £1 billion

Alex Johnson in a blog on the Independent (UK): Underinvestment in defences and climate change means the annual cost of flooding in England and Wales has reached £1bn, suggests a new report.

The cost of individual major flooding events is also rising, according to the research by SearchFlow who quote the Environment Agency’s estimate that a major coastal flood in the Humber estuary could cause £266m worth of damage. As sea levels rise, this could increase to £1.4bn by 2040.

The Environment Agency predicts that in the next 30 years sea levels will rise by around 40cm so without improvement in flood defences this would increase the number of properties at significant risk of flooding in the east of England by 48% – by 2040 the cost of a major coastal flooding event could reach £16bn. Naturally, losses of this level would place a heavy strain on the insurance market.

“The twin impacts of climate change and ongoing property development mean the danger of flood liability is growing rapidly,” said Richard Hinton, business development director of SearchFlow. “So great is the potential risk from rising sea levels and construction on the floodplain to accommodate a rising population, the UK’s flood liability could come to dominate the global reinsurance market. In practice, that would mean many in high risk areas would be unable to obtain insurance at all, which would significantly reduce the value of their properties and potentially could put homeonwners in breach of their mortgage agreements....

Peter Cooper took this shot of 2007 flooding in Abingdon, Wikimedia Commons via Flickr, under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license

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