The number of UK residents facing significant flood risk is larger than the population of Birmingham and Manchester combined, according to a major new report from a coalition of leading environmental campaign groups.
The numbers at risk were highlighted in a study from The Climate Coalition, a collection of over 130 organisations including conservation bodies WWF, the RSPB, and The Wildlife Trusts, aid agencies such as Oxfam, and community groups like the Women’s Institute.
The UK is experiencing wetter winters and more frequent and intense weather extremes, which scientists have attributed to climate change and which are widely expected to worsen over the coming decades. The report outlines how communities have suffered in the aftermath of floods, such as those in Yorkshire and the Midlands at the end of last year.
The years 2007-19 have seen a major flood event nearly every year, with almost 100,000 properties damaged in England, according to data drawn by the report from the Environment Agency.
The November 2019 floods led to more than 2,250 insurance claims for flood damage from homeowners with at least £45 million expected to be paid out to cover damaged homes and possessions, according to information given to report authors by the Association of British Insurers (ABI). Coastal, surface or river flooding is now estimated to cause more than £1bn worth of damage a year in the UK.
One of the worst affected places during the November 2019 floods was Bentley, in South Yorkshire, where more than 400 homes were damaged. Previous flooding in the town in 2007 had left residents priced out of home insurance by high premiums, with a £7,500 excess in one case. Flooding has also made it difficult for residents to sell or move home.
As such the Coalition called for all new homes to be made compatible with the UK’s net zero emissions target and urged the government to help homeowners make their houses more energy-efficient, while also stepping up investment in improving flood defences in vulnerable areas.
Building homes in areas at risk of flooding should be subject to stricter controls, while planting more trees in urban areas will both reduce the risk of flooding and help to cool cities during heatwaves, the Coalition added.
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