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It is not quite what we had hoped in terms of tackling the causes of flooding but nevertheless it is v important. Basically Mary and Judy have been contracted by The Environment Agency to undertake a community engagement project in the Stroud Area. The main brief was to promote the take up of the new Flood Defence Warning system that now specifically covers property at risk of flooding on the River Frome. They have focussed on properties and businesses in the Stroud Valleys, Stonehouse, Bridgend and Dudbridge - indeed I understand they have door-knocked and spoken to hundreds of property owners. How many properties at risk is an issue I will cover in a mo...
It has been said that with its steep sided valleys and shallow culverts if the same volume of rain fell on Stroud as it did on Tewkesbury/Worcs in 2007, the results could be very bad indeed - one commentator suggesting 'as bad as Boscastle perhaps'. There is often some indifference to a threat if you have never suffered its effects in the past, but Judy noted that on the whole people were quite positive and many have signed up to the Flood Warning Service.
Mary and Judy note that the biggest concern that homeowners expressed was the the large rise in their household insurance premiums on properties which in 90% of cases have never suffered any floods in the past. This is an issue that the Local Government Association has also picked up on as the agreement between government and insurance companies is due to expire in June next year. The LGA wants to see longterm availability and affordability of flood insurance, the most accurate data re floods used and for insurance companies to take into account all resilience measures taken.
The Association of British Insurers warned earlier this year that up to 200,000 homes in England and Wales will struggle to obtain adequate flood insurance next year. See more in Guardian this week here.
The Association of British Insurers (ABI) say over 800 properties are at risk of flooding (ie: 1 in 75yr threat) in the Stroud area. It is a mystery as to why the EA state that the number of properties at risk is closer to 400! What is going on? Well Judy has written to Neil Carmichael for an answer.
Amazingly it seems Insurance Companies all use different flood mapping companies in order to assess different areas risk and they refuse to disclose their figures as quote "to do so would be anti-competetive". This leads to considerable inaccuracies as many have experienced locally. People who have been flooded have lower premiums to neighbours who have never been flooded. Why can't we have a generic database containing the flooding history of individual properties? Some might cry it is anti-competitive - but at the moment whole streets and even towns can be grouped into 'A High Flood Risk Area' and then people charged highly inflated premiums.
As one commentator said: "Persecuting individuals and communities based on unpublished and flawed evidence which is not open to public scrutiny and to which they have no right of reply is at least outright discrimination and at worst downright illegal!"
Big thanks to Judy and Mary for getting this issue on the agenda locally.