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£1.1billion a year in flood damage is prevented by UK river defences

Posted: 12/06/19

According to research, an estimated £1.1billion a year in flood damage is being prevented by the UK’s network of river barriers and defences. The Association of British Insurers (ABI) says it is the first time the financial contribution of river defences has been quantified.

The modeling, based on thousands of simulations of weather events with and without flood defences, emphasises the value to UK homes and businesses of flood defence spending and the importance of government investment, particularly for flood-prone locations such as Cumbria, Yorkshire, Somerset and the Welsh valleys.

The research commissioned by Flood Re and conducted by Risk Management Solutions, suggested that inland flooding would cost, on average, three times more a year without the defences – £1.8billion as opposed to £700m across the whole of the UK.

The Environment Agency has called for spending on building and maintaining flood defences to be increased from £600million a year to £1billion, due to the threat of global warming of up to 4C above pre-industrial levels.

Closer examination of what happened in Cumbria in December 2015 shows the flooding caused by Storm Desmond would have done damage worth three-and-a-half times as much without river water defences – £2.8billion rather than £600m.

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