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Flood defences vital amid climate change

From Cumbria to Cornwall, worried homeowners face concerns over the risk of floods in the future.Climate change has led to predictions that flooding will become more regular in some areas, with local councils and the insurance industry saying more needs to be done to prepare for what may come.

A report by Cumbria County Council talked of "readiness for the next time" but the £38 million spent on flood defences after Carlisle flooded in 2005 now looks like money well spent.

The defences prevented further homes and businesses from disaster in last year's devastating floods, saving an estimated £50 million of potential damage.

The Environment Agency has carried out emergency works to reinstate the level of flood protection before the floods in Keswick and these are also nearing completion in Cockermouth.

After the deluge hit, emergency plans put in place were "robust", according to Cumbria County Council, but the sheer scale of the flooding was beyond what was expected.

Despite the Association of British Insurers (ABI) claiming that its members acted swiftly, insurance issues are still cited as a major problem and have the potential to cause as much distress as the flooding itself, with claimants facing wrangling with loss adjustors.

Nick Starling, the ABI's director of general insurance and health, said: "Last November's floods were a tragic and traumatic event for Cumbria.

"No-one should under-estimate the misery and destruction that flooding brings.

"The Government needs to implement a long-term flood management strategy.

"Managing the flood threat better will reduce the risk of devastating floods, like those that hit Cumbria last year, from happening again."

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