27 Nov 2019 Autumn UK Flooding
2019 Autumn UK Flooding – how does it affect homeowners
Floods have been affecting many of the UK’s northern counties in the last few weeks. Fishlake near Doncaster has been heavily affected, with many people having to leave their homes. The devastating floods came with little warning. As flood scenes become more familiar, we wonder why is flooding increasing, will it continue and what does it mean for us all? Flood risk consultant Jackie Stone at Unda Consulting, says, “Floods are affecting more and more people and increasing numbers are at risk. We need to prepare, plan and take a pro-active approach, as home and business owners, and as a country.”
Why was the recent Fishlake flood so bad?
The cause of the worst of the latest floods is being debated. The location was once boggy fenland. It rained a month’s worth of rain in one day immediately after a spell of wet weather that had filled two local rivers. A number of man-made land changes, such as reduction of heather moorland and drainage systems further up the river, contributed to the water levels around Fishlake. More flood defences have been put in place in response to previous floods and have reduced the impact of heavy rain. However, people are questioning whether these defences have just moved the problem further along. The Environment Agency’s policy of considering each flood scheme on the basis of how it will benefit people and property has been much discussed. Obviously, towns and cities are more densely populated, but some feel this is leaving rural areas overlooked. We’ve seen floods in many areas of the UK in recent years. And it’s not just here. Record flooding is currently occurring in Venice and other extreme weather is being reported across the globe. It is an increasing phenomenon we must address.
So, is it all down to climate change? The warmer our overall temperature, the more moisture the air can hold. Few argue that the temperature is rising, the only argument is by how much. Scientists believe that every 1 degree Celsius increase can lead to the air holding 7% more water vapour. As temperatures rise, the Met Office has recorded significant increases in extreme wet days. Experts have suggested that the problems have been exacerbated by poor management, building on floodplains and the depletion of natural environments that help the absorbency of land. The situation is a clear rise in flooding.
Primary causes and types of UK flooding The main types of flooding that we see in the UK are: River flooding – the recent floods fall into this category. Heavy rain causes rivers to overflow their banks. 2 million UK properties are estimated to be at risk. Coastal flooding – another major issue and one we have seen battering Cornwall in recent years. Low lying coastal land is at risk here. A rise in Compound flooding, where storm surges combine with heavy rains, is also becoming more common. Surface water flooding – this is caused by rainwater than can’t drain away. It can affect areas well away from the sea or rivers and heavy land development may contribute.
Predictions are that yes, flooding will get worse. Bristol, Cornwall and Devon are named as at particular risk of coastal flooding. Overall, it’s estimated that one in six properties in the UK is in an area where there is a significant risk of flooding – and this doesn’t necessarily mean an area near a river or the sea. Meteorologists have compiled maps that attempt to outline the level of risk across the country.