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Government underestimates number of properties at risk of flooding, says study



Around 800,000 homes in England and Wales could be affected by flooding in the next 10 years, according to a research by the London School of Economics (LSE). This figure is much higher than the one cited by the government’s Flood Re insurance scheme.

Launched in June to provide affordable insurance to homeowners at high risk of flooding, the scheme estimates that some 500,000 properties in England and Wales might be at risk of floods within a decade.

However, according to the LSE’s research, the Flood Re programme is being too optimistic and forgetting the impact of climate change on sea and river level rises and coastal degradation. The authors estimate the number of homes in danger to be around 800,000, with the number likely to rise to 1.5m by 2050.

The LSE study says, “The design of the Flood Re scheme has not taken into account adequately, if at all, how flood risk is being affected by climate change.

“For this reason, it is likely to be put under increasing pressure and may prove to be unsustainable because the number of properties in future that will be at moderate and high probability of flooding has been significantly underestimated.”

On Sunday, Stephane Hallegatte of the World Bank in Washington calculated in a paper published in Nature Climate Change that the flood damage in coastal cities across the world is expected to reach $1 trillion a year by 2050.

Meanwhile, in July, the environment committee claimed that the government’s funds were not keeping the pace with the increasing threats of floods across the country.

The LSE study has now been submitted to the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), which will give a response in October.

Further reading:

US states to require insurers to take part in climate risks survey

Flood defence measures lag behind the risks, says committee

Climate change is making parts of the world uninsurable

UN: economic losses from natural disasters total $2.5tn this century

Investing for a rainy day of biblical proportions