As the UK grapples with the fallout of storm Jocelyn and rising rainfall, Sean Scott explores the spectre of flooding that looms large over our homes and communities

Sean Scott, Vuba Headshot

Sean Scott is the founder at Vuba

Recent data from the Environment Agency states that three million homes are at risk of surface flash flooding in the UK.

Meanwhile, a report from the National Infrastructure Commission indicates that more than 600,000 English properties could be in areas at high risk of surface flooding by 2055.

This number is projected to escalate as climate change continues to manifest in extreme weather events, meaning there is a strong call for action that extends to the government’s flood defence fund of £5.2 billion.

While the fund exists, accessing it remains a challenge for local authorities, especially when smaller amounts are needed for targeted measures like tree planters. Thus, taking flood preventive measures has become more and more a local responsibility.

While homeowners are becoming increasingly aware of the need to safeguard their homes against flooding, a crucial aspect often escapes attention.

Typically, when considering flood prevention, focus is directed towards the structural integrity of homes and safeguarding indoor spaces. Regrettably, the often-overlooked Achilles’ heel in the battle against flooding lies in the traditional block pavement that can be seen on driveways across the nation.

These impermeable surfaces, whether block pavement or tarmac, hinder rainwater from being absorbed into the ground, leading to sewage blockages and overflows. In the face of intense storms, this can escalate into flash flooding, causing substantial damage to properties.

It is imperative to recognize that flood resilience extends beyond the confines of our homes; outdoor areas play a pivotal role in determining the overall vulnerability of a property to flooding. Traditional impermeable materials exacerbate the problem, making it crucial to shift our attention toward more sustainable and resilient alternatives.

Enter permeable surfaces - an often-underestimated yet highly effective solution to mitigate the impact of surface water flooding. Resin, in particular, stands out as a champion in the realm of permeable materials.

The often-overlooked Achilles’ heel in the battle against flooding lies in the traditional block pavement that can be seen on driveways across the nation

Scientifically proven to be 19 times more permeable than traditional block pavement, resin-bound surfacing offers a proactive and resilient solution to the challenges posed by climate change. Unlike impermeable surfaces, resin allows rainwater to be captured and absorbed back into the ground, preventing surface runoff from contributing to sewage issues and flooding. All that is required is a permeable base beneath the resin, such as open-grade tarmac or permeable concrete.

Sustainable drainage systems (SuDS), such as resin, are set to be incorporated into new developments in England, according to a recent review published by the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA). According to the report, SuDS are designed to reduce the impact of rainfall on new developments by using features such as soakaways, grassed areas, permeable surfaces, and wetlands. This reduces the overall amount of water that ends up in the sewers and storm overflow discharges.

The benefits of adopting permeable materials extend beyond flood prevention. By choosing permeable surfaces for driveways, backyards, and patios, homeowners not only help avert flood-related disasters but also promote the health and sustainability of the local ecosystem.

Moreover, the societal and economic implications of embracing permeable surfaces are significant. As the number of properties at risk of flooding continues to rise, so do the financial burdens on communities and local authorities. By investing in permeable solutions, we not only fortify our homes against potential damages but also alleviate the strain on public resources that are otherwise directed towards disaster recovery and relief efforts.

In the face of climate change, where extreme weather events are becoming increasingly commonplace, resilience should be the cornerstone of our approach to the built environment.