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Environment Agency Publishes New Flood Risk Maps

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The Environment Agency has today published new flood risk maps.

The major change is that the maps can now show the risk of surface flooding, which occurs when rainwater does not drain away through the normal drainage systems or soak into the ground, but lies on or flows over the ground instead.

Surface water flooding is a growing problem due to higher rainfall levels, antiquated drainage systems, and non-permeable residential driveway alterations that increase surface water runoff.

These maps have been available to several agencies and other parties for some time but they were not publicly available.

Here's an example of the old style flood map, showing risk from rivers and sea:

EAFloodMapOld.gif

And here's the new style map - I've animated it between the river/sea option and the surface water one:

EAFloodMapNew.gif

The new maps are available at the following link:

http://watermaps.environment-agency.gov.uk/wiyby/wiyby.aspx?topic=ufmfsw#x=357683&y=355134&scale=2

Surface water flood risk levels on the map:

Very Low: less than 1 in 1000 chance of flooding each year (<0.1% p.a.).

Low: between 1 in 1000 and 1 in 100 chance of flooding each year (0.1% to 1% p.a.).

Medium: between 1 in 100 and 1 in 30 chance of flooding each year (1% - 3.3% p.a.).

High: greater than 1 in 30 chance of flooding each year (>3.3% p.a.)

Edit: added risk percentages.

Edited by FreeTrader

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Thanks.

I can see a few areas where I know houses are on for about 1 million asking which appear to be in the most at risk 'dark blue' category from looking at the map. It also confirms my thoughts about a new executive estate about to be built on the playing fields of a former school.

Presumably this map is now used by insurers?

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Thanks.

I can see a few areas where I know houses are on for about 1 million asking which appear to be in the most at risk 'dark blue' category from looking at the map. It also confirms my thoughts about a new executive estate about to be built on the playing fields of a former school.

Presumably this map is now used by insurers?

Yes, my understanding from an article I read a few weeks ago is that a number of insurers are likely to use these maps.

That may well just be the first port of call though - if the EA map shows some risk then they can use a database from a private consultancy service to get a flood risk assessment at the individual property level.

The new Flood Re scheme (starting in 2015) which will guarantee capped insurance cover for residential properties will likely not extend to properties built after 1 January 2009, so this is certainly something I'd be wary of if I were a prospective purchaser.

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Thanks.

I can see a few areas where I know houses are on for about 1 million asking which appear to be in the most at risk 'dark blue' category from looking at the map. It also confirms my thoughts about a new executive estate about to be built on the playing fields of a former school.

Presumably this map is now used by insurers?

They will still ask for 1 Million+ and their properties will sit on the market for years. Why? Debt.

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Just ike to add that 'guaranteed capped insurance' is not insurance really but a tax on those who buy dry properties to give to those who buy wet ones, many of which are pretty much guaranteed to flood.

For this reason and for many others, I try and self insure as far as possible. I no longer buy contents insurance to give out to people who over claim, who will definitely flood and where the costs of administration and insurer profit are a high % of the premium.

Yet another case of market intervention distorting risk.

As it stands at present the Flood Re scheme won't cover buy to let properties, and the Government is being heavily lobbied by property VIs to extend the cover to rented accommodation.

Here's an example article from a couple of days ago:

Government leaving landlords high and dry on flood insurance

Ministers’ plans to ensure flood insurance is widely available will not extend to private rented accommodation leaving landlords and tenants in flood affected areas vulnerable to massive financial burdens, warns the RLA.

Just days after much of the east coast of England faced some of the most serious flooding in over half a century the RLA is seeking urgent clarification from the Government over its flood insurance proposals currently going through Parliament.

[...]

Having been led to believe that landlords in the private rented sector would be covered, the Government’s response to the consultation on the scheme concludes that properties would be excluded where the owner does not reside in it. This would effectively exclude rented properties. This would mean landlords and tenants may not be able to obtain affordable insurance cover and would have to meet the full cost of any damage.

http://news.rla.org.uk/government-leaving-landlords-high-and-dry-on-flood-insurance/

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Wow, amazingly detailed and, in my local area at least, pretty accurate.

Edit: I'm impressed that it takes into account not only the contours of the landscape, but also artificial features such as embankments.

Edited by snowflux

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Well my property is now shown as a medium flood risk. Have to say it's nonsense really. I've lived in my house for 25 years and in the immediate area for 35 years and yes, there is a particular corner that holds surface water after very heavy prolonged rain in the Autumn, but that is due to the drains not having been cleared of leaves and debris. The council comes out and unblocks them and hey presto it all drains away. As far as my house is concerned, even in extreme circumstances, it wouldn't flood anyway because the water would naturally flow away across the lower lying ground that would act as a natural flood plain.

So it may show my house as a medium risk but in reality it's really not at risk at all.

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These are the risk probabilities (I've added them to the OP):

Low = between 1 in 1000 and 1 in 100 chance of flooding each year (0.1% to 1% p.a.).

Medium: between 1 in 100 and 1 in 30 chance of flooding each year (1% - 3.3% p.a.).

High: greater than 1 in 30 chance of flooding each year (>3.3% p.a.)

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Well, that is just great.

my house is 397 feet above sea level and all the houses in my village are safe, except mine and next door!

We have our very own, very small dark blue blob!

I don't know why.

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Well, that is just great.

my house is 397 feet above sea level and all the houses in my village are safe, except mine and next door!

We have our very own, very small dark blue blob!

I don't know why.

If they are right you should find out within the next 30 years.

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For my area, it looks extremely accurate. There's a couple of local roads which have regularly flooded over quite short stretches - including really badly during one storm last year. Low and behold, those stretches are on the map.

Thankfully, being a couple of hundred feet above sea level - ours is in no danger of either surface or coastal flooding.

Edited by StainlessSteelCat

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Well, that is just great.

my house is 397 feet above sea level and all the houses in my village are safe, except mine and next door!

We have our very own, very small dark blue blob!

I don't know why.

I sneaked round your house last night and used blue ink to put a small blob on your monitor. I think it was a blue blob and I think it was a marker.

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Very useful thanks.

This has put my blood pressure up.

Q. I am at low flood risk, so why should I have to pay the levy on my home insurance so that someone at higher flood risk can get affordable flood insurance?

A. The levy has been calculated to reflect the existing cross-subsidy between those at lower and higher flood risk. And better information now available shows that many people are potentially at flood risk, from flash flooding for instance, and not just people living near a river or the sea. Also, having property insurance that includes flood cover is usually crucial in getting a mortgage. So if flood insurance becomes harder to obtain and more expensive, this could have serious repercussions for the property market.

Well, cry me a f***ing river.

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Not so. I had a place at the top of the North York Moors all on its own and near the top of a hill. In extreme weather it once had free flowing water in it due to 'run off' from the moor.

I've camped out 2/3rds up a mountain in the lake district and we realised at 2am in the morning we were in the middle of a make shift stream/come river when it pee'd down all night with rain running off the steeper sides, it seemed dry, flat and ok at the time.. :o

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Those maps are amazing - I've looked at St Albans and slap in the middle of town is a dark blue smudge. It's nowhere near any rivers, but it actually makes sense that it could flood - it's in a small depression and everywhere around it is tarmacked.

Unsurprisingly, it's an old light-industrial unit being redeveloped into rows of tightly-packed bijou townhouses...

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Well, that is just great.

my house is 397 feet above sea level and all the houses in my village are safe, except mine and next door!

We have our very own, very small dark blue blob!

I don't know why.

Most floods come from surface water - nothing to do with sea level.

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Plenty of flooding on the way tonight tunbribge wells in kent already flooded, many more areas at risk, this has gotta have an effect on house prices in these areas surely? but who would want to buy them?

edit: just read the link above so actually i have to pay more on my insurance so those at risk of flood can pay less on their premiums based on their lifestlye choices on where they choose to live?

Edited by Bringingitdown

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These are the risk probabilities (I've added them to the OP):

Low = between 1 in 1000 and 1 in 100 chance of flooding each year (0.1% to 1% p.a.).

Medium: between 1 in 100 and 1 in 30 chance of flooding each year (1% - 3.3% p.a.).

High: greater than 1 in 30 chance of flooding each year (>3.3% p.a.)

Ah, but what is a surface water flood? Is it a simple half-inch-deep puddle? Is it the big puddles on the fields by the river, where small sprogs love to play every winter? Where do you draw the line?

Most floods present no more threat to us than getting a bit wet.

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It's pretty dry stuff (if you'll pardon the expression) but if you are thinking about buying a house anywhere that might flood then you should watch this:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b04w5y27/select-committees-flood-risk-management-committee

Short version: flood defences to be subject to 'cost savings' over the next few decades best described as 'doing less with less.'

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It's pretty dry stuff (if you'll pardon the expression) but if you are thinking about buying a house anywhere that might flood then you should watch this:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b04w5y27/select-committees-flood-risk-management-committee

Short version: flood defences to be subject to 'cost savings' over the next few decades best described as 'doing less with less.'

Logically the government should in turn free up planning permission to build on higher ground away from flood plains, but the likelihood of them doing anything so sensible in the face of NIMBY opposition is depressingly small...

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Well my property is now shown as a medium flood risk. Have to say it's nonsense really. I've lived in my house for 25 years and in the immediate area for 35 years and yes, there is a particular corner that holds surface water after very heavy prolonged rain in the Autumn, but that is due to the drains not having been cleared of leaves and debris. The council comes out and unblocks them and hey presto it all drains away. As far as my house is concerned, even in extreme circumstances, it wouldn't flood anyway because the water would naturally flow away across the lower lying ground that would act as a natural flood plain.

So it may show my house as a medium risk but in reality it's really not at risk at all.

They've added a small puddle on the edge of the road and our drive. If the council filled it in it wouldn't even be a puddle.

The bit further up the road is right though - but same as yours - the drains need emptying of the leaves.

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The bottom of our garden is covered by surface water fairly regularly, and next door up to a foot deep. The problem with this map is it is about 250 feet out as the crow flies...it shows our houses and the street in front directly within the surface water area. In fact our houses are on higher ground which are up from the lower ground by about 3 to 4 metres.

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As this thread has been bumped, you might be interested to learn that Francis Maude made a speech a couple of days ago regarding open data, and he announced that flood data that used to be only available to insurance companies for a fee would now be made freely accessible to all.

Here's is the relevant extract:

During the flooding at the start of this year, we brought together 200 software developers and computer programmers. We gave them access to data that had previously only been available at cost to a small number of insurance companies, including 15 minute readings from every river level sensor in the UK. Within 2 days, they came up with a range of solutions to help – from a phone service that connects people with their energy supplier in a power cut, to an app that alerts Twitter users to local volunteering opportunities.

Since those floods, there has been a strong demand for flood risk assessment data to be released to help local communities better protect themselves. When it comes to something like flooding, this country’s national information infrastructure can be important as well as its physical infrastructure.

I’m pleased to announce today that the Environment Agency will be releasing this as open data. This release was originally planned for next April, but we’ve brought it forward with the support of funding from the Cabinet Office. It accompanies the release of other open data from the Environment Agency including real time river levels, flood warnings, and flood alerts. Together, this will enable businesses large and small to develop local flood warning systems or integrate the data into their systems.

Let’s be clear – this is data that is accumulated and maintained at taxpayer’s expense. It is right that this data be made available to the public.

https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/francis-maude-speech-on-open-data-and-transparency

As far as I'm aware there's been no official announcement from the Environment Agency yet, and so it's not clear what new data sources will be forthcoming.

Furthermore, as a result of the government's open data plans there's strong speculation that the Land Registry will be giving more free information. From the Indy for example:

"The Independent understands that the Government is in talks with the Land Registry to open up, free of charge, its vast data set containing the ownership details of every property in the UK. At present, access to the information is severely limited and costs £3 for every search done."

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/ministers-open-floodgates-to-release-official-data-9916725.html

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