The flood protection industry is in serious decline, of that there is no doubt. A lack of central and local government support within the short term and the absence of any widespread weather related flooding for a couple of years has seen the issue of flood protection move from the headlines to the footnotes of the political and social agendas. Many highly respected companies who are, or were members of the PCA, are struggling to survive or have already succumbed to the lack of orders.
Flood protection still continues behind the scenes
Though the flow of work protecting individual homes has all but ground to a halt, activity continues behind the scenes:
- The industry round table are delivering codes of practice – BS 851188 (testing of flood protection products) is out for consultation
- Mary Dhonau has worked with a number of PCA members to deliver the flood showcase house in Cumbria
- BRE created a training course for Chartered surveyors (that looks very similar to the PCA offering in content and running order) in order to “upskill” Chartered surveyors who fancy writing specifications for flood protection work
- Various studies have been funded and delivered by government, academia and other luminaries of the flood protection market
We now understand that the government is committed to funding three “pathfinder” projects that will look again in great detail at how to get homeowners to embrace property level flood protection. To my surprise, they have apparently found £1.5m to fund this three year project.
Risk of serious flooding an increasing peril
To me this demonises the Governments unwavering realisation that the risk of serious flooding is an increasing peril, despite the lack of major events over the last couple of years and the very recent warning from the Environment Agency that “flood planners must prepare for worst“.
The Government knows that civil and engineered flood defence work cannot protect every vulnerable home and business. They understand the returns associated with the adoption of measures that make properties more resilient to flooding, yet tragically, they seem to be almost sitting back and watching the world-leading innovators and product developers, as well as the skills base needed to deliver flood resilience, evaporate!
Initiative to get full scale flood test houses built
Despite this morbid vision of the current situation, the fantastic people and enthusiastic business owners who have given so much of themselves to develop frameworks that accredit products, assure standards and create protocols, remain committed. As a result, good things are still coming forward. This was evident recently as Aquabex Ltd invited a range of partners to an event hosted at HR Wallingford in Oxfordshire. The goal of the joint initiative is to get full scale flood test houses built. Buildings that can be equipped with the latest technology to test and monitor how products and techniques stand up to flooding in “as built” conditions. Such a facility would be a massive boost for the UK flood protection community however, an important obstacle must be overcome if it is to exist!
The source of the cash that is needed to get these things delivered is uncertain at present. It is clear that many people and organisations are tremendously supportive of the proposed project and see the potential benefits, but who will actually find the money to make it happen?
FloodRe to step up and fund this project!
It is my view that one organisation has both the money and the mandate to fund this exciting project. FloodRe are mandated by Government to skim money off every home insurance policy in the UK. This adds up to £180 million (a guaranteed income every year) and is then added to by premiums from homes that have been referred to the scheme.
This revenue is used to create a backstop position that allows most of the very “at risk” homes in the UK access to buildings insurance. In return they have a duty to do whatever is needed to ensure at the termination of the FloodRe project in 2039, they will be dispensable and are no longer needed.
Test of flood protection house an ideal investment!
Now I concede that I am no forensic accountant, but a quick look at companies house seems to suggest that this fledgeling organisation (incorporated in 2013) has a few quid! With profits of over £100 million for 2018 and impressive reserves, it rewards its executives well!
I am sure it is a very well organised company and is more than ready to meet its obligations “come the flood”. With that said, “surely” the proposed flood test house must be an ideal project for this organisation to invest in? Looking at their books they could underwrite its creation and operation at the stroke of a pen and in committing to such a philanthropic act, seed an incredible investment.
A benefit to the whole of the UK flood protection market
Flood protection specialists are struggling right now. The government doesn’t have cash to throw about, but FloodRe as a publicly mandated, not-for-profit company has both the mandate and the funds to create a project that could benefit the whole of the UK flood protection efforts. An opportunity to advance knowledge, create training and validate protection systems in a way that could be globally unique is open to them right now.
A centre of excellence the rest of the world would envy!
FloodRe were invited to the meeting yesterday but unfortunately, they were unable to attend. That was a shame. That said, it is not too late to get involved and I would urge their support for the project.
A couple of million invested would build a fantastic facility that would be in operation for at least 10 years and could really see the UK establish itself as a centre of excellence that the rest of the world would envy. Oh…and the ‘cherry on top’… did I mention that Research & Development investments are very tax efficient!
So come-on FloodRe. Its not often a ‘no brainer’ suggestions gets passed right under your nose. Lets see you blow the cobwebs off that wallet of yours and for once, lets make the bank manager that little bit unhappier by taking a tiny pot of cash out to invest in what is a ‘bloody good’ idea!
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