Flood spending welcomed but more action needed

Article date: 15 July 2002

Norwich Union welcomes the increased £150m funding for flooddefences by 2005/06, announced by the Chancellor in theComprehensive Spending Review.

In its initial response to the Review, the insurer also welcomesthe commitment to streamline administrative arrangements for flooddefences – one of the issues, which Norwich Union has beencampaigning about for several months.

In addition to funding, Norwich Union continues to call for:

  • A robust integrated plan for the UK to combat all majorsources of flooding
  • Enforcement of planning regulations
  • Flood defences set at realistic levels of protection,particularly for new buildings
  • Re-evaluation of the criteria used to identify which areasreceive flood defences – taking into account all impacts offlooding

Commenting on the announcement, Nick Pierson, head of householdproducts, Norwich Union, said: “The additional fundingannounced today is a step in the right direction - however,spending on defences alone will not tackle the problem of flooding.This is a complex issue, where not only funding, but organisation,prioritisation and land use management need to be overhauled tohelp reduce the problem.

“Unfortunately for some communities, flood is no longer arisk but a certainty and insurance can only go some way tocompensate for the loss and trauma involved. Depending on theseverity of the flood, between half a million and two million homesare at risk, which is why more action is needed.

“Sadly, despite this funding, it will still not bepossible to protect all communities and consequently, somehomeowners may still find it harder to get flood cover.

“We’ve been talking to representatives of centraland local government to help highlight the important role that theyplay in enforcing planning guidelines. In particular, we would liketo see fewer applications being granted for new buildings on floodplains and more realistic levels of flood defences for theseproperties.”

Peter Barnett, chairman of the National Flood Forum, commented:“The spending announced today is welcome news for thoseliving and working in flood risk areas. However, we know fromexperience that other actions - such as preventing building onflood plains, and residents working closely with local authoritiesand the Environment Agency – are also important to helpminimise the impact of flooding.

“Many local communities have already established floodaction groups, which have helped to bring about change in theirarea. We would encourage anyone living within high-risk areas tocontinue working in co-operation with agencies at local andnational level in making their community more resilient toflooding.”

Norwich Union will be considering the Review in detail tounderstand how this money will be allocated to the most vulnerablecommunities, and its implications for the insurance industry overthe next few months.

Media contact: Liz Kennett at Norwich Union on 08703 66 68 63(out of hours – 07801 901666).

To contact the National Flood Forum, call Gill Holland on 01299403955 (e-mail – gill.holland@floodforum.org.uk).

Notes to editors:

Norwich Union has been involved in a number of initiatives tohelp find solutions to problems of flooding. For example, theinsurer has commissioned a digital map of Britain to help pinpointand understand exactly which areas of the country are at risk fromriver flooding. The map will be used to provide more accuratepremiums for individual homes and businesses according to theirrisk of flood. Commenting on the mapping project, Elliott Morley,in the House of Commons said, “I am very impressed with thework that Norwich Union is doing on digital mapping, which is muchmore accurate.”

Norwich Union recently attended the Local GovernmentAssociation’s Annual Conference in Bournemouth and was alsoinvolved in the establishment of an Associate All PartyParliamentary Group on flooding, which met for the first time on 2July.

The cost to ‘UK plc’ of the autumn 2000 floods wasover one billion pounds. Nearly two million homes (equivalent tothe entire population of the South West of England) and 130,000commercial properties, worth over £200 billion, are at risk fromflooding, (DEFRA 2001). Over one million hectares of farming land,worth a further £7 billion, are also at risk (MAFF July 2000).

Norwich Union is the UK’s largest insurer. In generalinsurance it is more than 1.5 times the size of its nearestcompetitor and has a 19 per cent share of the market.

It has a focus on insurance for individuals and smallbusinesses. It insures:

  • one in five households
  • one in five motor vehicles
  • more than 700,000 businesses

Norwich Union products are available through a variety ofdistribution channels including brokers, corporate partners such asbanks and building societies, and Norwich Union Direct.

  • Norwich Union's news releases are available on the internet atwww.aviva.com
  • A selection of images are available from the Aviva Newscastsite at www.newscast.co.uk

For all life & pensions media enquiries 08703 66 68 73 Forall other media enquiries 08703 66 68 68

More information about the National Flood Forum is available athttp://www.floodforum.org.uk/

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