Understanding flood risk guarantees protection

Earlier this week the Environment Agency (EA) warned members of the public to be aware of the risk of flooding to their property. And with the Met Office forewarning of a particularly wet winter ahead (21/22) this could prove to very timely.

Though the EA was focuing on the risk to residential property it is as important for business owners and landlords to be aware of the risk posed to their businesses / assets so that they can make informed decisions as to the appropriate level of investment to make in flood resistance measures.

EA mapping is a useful starting point for checking flood risk but alone it is not sufficient to accurately understand the actual level of risk posed to your property.

  • The online flood maps are not site specific, it looks at an overview of an area. This means that will you get a generic overview that doesn’t consider any aspects that specifically impact your site / property; for instance there might be new buildings or roads that can impact the flood flow path towards your property. These maps also do not include the effect of climate change which can increase the flood risk in the future.
  • When you think of flooding you often think of rivers bursting but this is just one of several types of flooding that can affect properties. Ground water and sewer flooding is a huge factor when considering your flood risk, but this isn’t something that EA mapping covers in its analysis.

To be fully informed and to truly understand the flood risk to your site / property you need an assessment that:

  • Undertakes in-depth site investigation, taking account of aspects such as topography, ground conditions, ground water penetration, and considers changes to your local area. These changes could influence the rate of absorption of the land around your site, flood flow routes and local drainage
  • Considers climate change and how changing patterns will impact your site in the next 5, 10, 50 years, allowing you to future proof your site. It is easier to make the necessary changes to your property while it is classified as low risk than it is once it has been assigned a higher classification
  • Considers potential flow velocity when assessing damage risk
  • Analyses how different types of flooding could impact each other, for example with tidal lock which is when flood waters coming down by river are met by a rising tide and held inland.

Am I too late to protect my property?

What’s the risk this winter? If it is wetter than normal over the next few months it will mean that, over time, ground becomes saturated and less water will be absorbed increasing the likelihood of a flood during storm events as the water finds other routes to run off, or groundwater rises.

Undertaking a flood risk assessment will identify your level of exposure and let you make an informed choice on what to do. There are steps that can be introduced immediately to increase the resilience of your site so it’s never too late to act.

One final word of warning from Cluttons’ flood expert, Ian Paton “There are a lot of companies out there that will promise risk assessments and flood resilience solutions that cannot be trusted. The CoP for PFR goes some way to address this issue but we strongly recommend that clients spend time researching suppliers to make sure that they are working with trusted professionals. As an independent consultancy we have spent a lot of time undertaking unbiased research and assessment of flood defence projects and as a result we have shortlisted specialist products and suppliers.”

Ending on a high note

It doesn’t have to be all doom and gloom. We have, in the past, undertaken flood risk assessments that have downgraded the risk allocation given to a site which meant that more could be done to develop the site, attract tenants, and the cost of flood risk insurance was reduced.

This article was written in collaboration with Taylor Consulting Engineers


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Ian Paton

Partner, building surveying


T +44 (0) 7894 461 912
Ian Paton