Winter floods could cost £5bn

Areas across the north west are still experiencing widespread disruption from unprecedented flooding during December, with recovery and resilience support available for affected businesses.

The severe flooding over the Christmas period, first from Storm Desmond and then from Storm Eva, inundated thousands of homes and businesses.

The extreme weather came during the wettest December on record and saw the army being deployed across parts of Cumbria, Yorkshire and Lancashire to help with the recovery effort. 

Disruption

Tens of thousands of properties across the region were left without power or experienced supply disruptions. On 27 December, Electricity North West urged its customers in Rochdale to minimise their energy use to help prevent further outages after electricity substations were flooded.

According to KPMG, the total cost to the economy is projected to be £5-5.8 billion, while consultancy group, IHS, estimates that the floods could wipe out 0.2 per cent of the UK’s economic output in 2016.

The flooding has already caused widespread damage to businesses across the region, with some smaller companies facing an uncertain future.

Christopher Neville, co-owner of Neville Paper & Plastics in Radcliffe, which was flooded by the River Irwell, told the BBC that the flooding reached 6ft in places and had caused tens of thousands of pounds in damage, adding: “I’d be very surprised if we can continue now”. 

Recovery

The Government has committed more than £200 million to aid in the recovery, including an £11 million fund for businesses made available by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS). 

Local authorities have also been provided funding for their own assistance schemes worth over £2,500 for every business affected.

A flood recovery guide for affected businesses has been published by the Business Growth Hub, along with details of how to access financial and resilience support.

Resilience

Climate change is expected to fuel more regular extreme weather events like Storms Desmond and Eva, with average winter rainfall in the north west estimated to be four per cent higher by the 2020s. 

Businesses are therefore being urged to consider their resilience to future flooding. According to CLASP, a public sector sustainability support service for the north west, every £1 spent on increasing resilience could yield £4 in damages avoided.

Government guidance on preparing for flooding and how to create a flood plan is available here

Posted under General Interest and Climate Change and What it Means to You on 13 January 2016