Defra commissions consultant Entec to devise flood-proofing strategy

The government has turned to the construction industry to work out how to protect UK housing in the wake of the recent flooding crisis.

Following the summer’s storms, which caused nearly £3bn damage across the country, Defra has called on environmental and engineering consultant Entec to come up with a strategy and business case for making buildings more flood-proof.

Entec will assess the cost of flood-resilient features, such as tiled floors and raised foundations, as well as the technical barriers that would have to be overcome to implement such design measures.

Neil Thurston, Entec’s project manager, said the consultant would call on the expertise from across the industry.

He said: “We will be talking to the construction industry, in particular to architects and developers, but this is not just about changing building design. It is about existing homes as well, and how they can be protected. We are also working with the Association of British Insurers (ABI) and the Environment Agency.”

Thurston added that the study should eventually increase the take-up of flood resilience measures.

He said: “We will look at the economics of flood resilience to assess the potential take-up. We’ll also look at the practicalities, such as how much would be saved in the clean-up if these measures were implemented?”

The study will also influence the decision as to whether flood-proofing should become law and help the government defend its ambitious housebuilding plans on flood plains, such as the Thames Gateway.

The news comes after parts of England were hit by the heaviest rainfall in decades in June and July. The latest figures from the ABI reveal that almost 60,000 claims have been made.

In May, the government announced that £500,000 would be given to five pilot sites to make individual properties more resilient to the impacts of flooding. These are: Uckfield in West Sussex, Bleasby in Nottinghamshire, Morecambe in Lancashire, Kirkby-in-Furness in Cumbria, Appleby, also in Cumbria, and Halton in Leeds.

The damage in figures

Total cost of damage £3bn
June domestic claims 27,500 (average cost £30,000)
June commercial claims 7,000 (average cost £90,000)
July domestic claims 17,500 (average cost £40,000)
July commercial claims 7,500 (average cost (£90,000)
Residential properties damaged 40,000
Schools affected 856