Some £3m in funding has been channelled into flood protection schemes for thousands of homes – as a major insurer warns flooding is a significant risk.
Following a competitive evaluation process, three projects across Yorkshire, Devon, and Cornwall and central England have been chosen to receive up to £700,000 each to boost research into, and uptake of, property-level flood protection.
DEFRA says the funding will go toward new research initiatives, demonstration centres, and advice portals – with remaining sums used to fund further research, support project delivery, and evaluation.
There’s also scope for initiatives to share the findings and lessons learned from the three projects across the rest of the country.
“I expect the councils and organisations involved will increase the take up of property resilience measures by home owners and businesses, making their properties safer, and quicker to return to if flooding does happen,” said Environment Minister Thérèse Coffey.
But Ralph de Mesquita, flood risk expert at Zurich, said implementing flood resilient measures also required greater public awareness, as well as builders and surveyors with the appropriate skills.
“The frequency and severity of flooding in the UK has increased significantly over the past decade, with the potential to cause widespread damage and distress,” he said.
In May, 24housing reported the number of number of homes built on flood plains is likely to double over the next 50 years.
For the purposes of the funding, property-level flood resilience can include a range of measures to reduce the damage that flooding can cause to buildings, such as installing flood doors and hard floors and ensuring that electrics are raised off ground level around the home.
The Oxford-Cambridge Pathfinder, led by Northamptonshire county council, will be centred on the delivery of one million high-quality homes across a wide area, including neighbouring counties, by 2050.
10 communities will be identified to engage with the project, ensuring resources to promote and install property flood resilience are prioritised in the areas most vulnerable to the impacts of flooding.
The Yorkshire Future Flood Resilience Pathfinder project, delivered by City of York council, will work with communities, planning, and construction professionals; the construction industry; and the insurance sector.
This initiative will encourage greater uptake of property flood resilience measures across the Yorkshire Regional Flood and Coastal Committee area, establishing a community hub and learning lab, working with existing projects and initiatives in the area, and providing staff to deliver a large-scale training programme.
The South West Partnership project, led by Cornwall county council, will focus on local innovation to enhance the future take-up of property flood resilience measures.
As well as establishing a demonstration hub and web portal, it will seek to simplify and streamline processes, increasing the flood resilience of communities across Devon, Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly.
The projects will be delivered with support from the Environment Agency (EA) and representatives of the insurance and construction industries.
EA will also monitor the projects to highlight successes and identify lessons that can be used to foster greater use of property flood resilience measures elsewhere across the country.
“This new funding is a welcome step forwards for our efforts to boost the uptake of property-level resilience measures in homes and businesses across the country,” said EA chair Emma Howard Boyd.
Building greater resilience into our homes, businesses, and infrastructure forms one of the core themes of the Environment Agency’s draft Flood and Coastal Risk Management strategy.
The government is currently investing £2.6bn to better protect 300,000 homes and thousands of business from flooding and coastal erosion between 2015-2021.