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Leaving the Floodplains Will Save Billions & Needless Misery Every Flood Season

by John Brian Shannon

Every year in the UK, billions of pounds sterling are spent to repair the damage caused by successive heavy rainfalls accumulating in the low-lying landscapes commonly known as ‘floodplains’…

UK Storm Dennis flooding 2020


Isn’t there a better way?

Of course, there is, but do various levels of government have the overall vision, the foresight and the long-term committent to provide the funding to move every floodplain home, business, school, and other building (yes, even listed buildings would need to be disassembled brick-by-brick and carefully reassembled in a new location) up the hill far enough to get them out of the floodplain area?

Flooding costs the UK around £2.2 billion each year: we currently spend around £800 million per annum on flood and coastal defences; and, even with the present flood defences, we experience an average of £1,400 million of damage. — Foresight.Gov.UK (PDF)

Billions are wasted each decade and thousands of British lives are interrupted with devastating floods every year, and with increasing regularity as the climate continues to change.

It seems a no-brainer that the various levels of government would create legislation designed to prohibit construction of any new building in a floodplain, except for soccer fields, golf courses, or parkland and the like.

And it seems even more obvious that private insurance companies and the various levels of government in the UK would benefit from a (large) one-time government spend to move homes and businesses out of the floodplains — in order to save many more billions — over the next 25-years.

Aside from the obvious disruption to the lives of Britons, to local economies and to national GDP, there are the health implications of the millions of gallons of raw sewage that mix with floodwaters that inevitably wind up in people’s basements, high street businesses, factories, and even schools in low-lying areas.

“Over £200 billion worth of assets are at risk around British rivers and coasts and in towns and cities,and we are all vulnerable to the disruption of transport and power when a major flood occurs.” — Sir David King KB ScD FRS Chief Scientific Adviser to HM Government and Head of the Office of Science and Technology

British taxpayers who’ve been allowed by the government to purchase existing buildings or to build new homes in floodplain areas… deserve not only the compensation they receive after each successive flood, they deserve a new piece of land located well above flood prone areas… and to have the entire cost of moving their homes and businesses and reassembling them above the floodplain paid-for by the government they trusted when they purchased those buildings.

Although this would result in a significant one-time cost for the government (but spread over a number of years) it would be cheaper than continuing to pay year-in and year-out for flood damage to homes, businesses, schools and other buildings. Imagine the savings to the country over 25-years!

Shrewsbury, UK during storm Dennis, February 2020

Billions are spent annually to repair damage caused by successive heavy rainfalls in the UK’s floodplains. Image courtesy of BBC.com

When the government is actively pursuing the well-being of UK citizens instead of merely reacting to such predictable disasters caused by the poor planning of previous governments, taxpayers will finally begin to feel they’re actually getting something of value in exchange for their tax contributions to the UK budget.

Yes, a Brexit trade deal with the EU is very important, but even that isn’t as important as the health and safety of UK citizens. In fact, the underlying reason behind Brexit was to allow the UK government to become more responsive to the legitimate needs of British citizens.

Now’s the time to prove this out in fact and in deed, Mr. Prime Minister!