How will the UK building industry respond to record-breaking flood levels?

on 07 March, 2014

Severe flooding has been present in many areas of the UK for months, with England experiencing the wettest January since records began. Large parts of southern England felt the force of heavy rain and a handful of areas remain on high alert.

The rain may have eased for the meantime, but a number of areas remain affected by heavy flooding. How will the UK, the government and the building industry respond?

Since the beginning of December, 5,800 homes and businesses have experienced flooding. For affected residents, the floods have been absolutely devastating, but statistically, the extreme weather has not had the same impact as the 2000 and 2007 floods. According to the Environment Agency, the 2000 floods affected 10,000 homes and businesses across 700 locations, and 48,461 homes and 6,896 businesses were flooded in 2007.

While David Cameron claims the government will be spending more on flood defences between 2011 and 2015 than in the previous four-year period, the stark realisation is that the budget has been cut by nearly £250m. The UK Statistics Authority found the amount spend on flood defences was £2.37bn while the amount spent between 2011 and 2015 will be £2.34bn.

Other ways to avoid floods in the future could be to redesign houses, raise roads and build tidal lagoons, according to a panel of senior engineers and academics.

Whether the resources to redesign houses and raise roads are available is another question. The supply of bricks in particular has become a concern as the industry still reels from the effects of the housing mortgage crisis. As housebuilding reduced, the demand for bricks slowed, but now the UK is on the road to recovery, the demand for bricks is increasing by more than can be manufactured.

As manufacturers scale up production and the housebuilding sector improves, we may be able to start thinking about redesigning houses as a viable action to take against flooding.

There's still a long way to go to combat the effects of the recent floods. Much more needs to be done from all sides of the UK to protect residents and businesses when the next wave of flooding cripples infrastructure across the country.

Ash Curtis is a brand journalist writing on behalf of Rubberbond.

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