Flood re


I’m not entirely sure I understand how this flood re thing works – it’s either because I’m a bit thick or because these explanations don’t quite do it for me (Association British Insurers, Defra, Aviva).  You’ll notice that everyone is stressing the benefits to those living in flood-prone areas – which is nice, but I live on top of a hill.  I think what it means is that people who live on hills pay £10:50 each towards paying the insurance costs of flood-prone folk (see here and here and here).

Hmm!  If that is right then I’m not sure how happy I am about it.  First, I live on a hill because I don’t want to be flooded – it’s not exactly rocket science is it?  Flood risk has changed over the years and I am always up for helping out the unfortunate but some houses have been built in daft places – and I’m less keen on paying for other people’s mistakes of judgement, because mistakes of judgement are different from misfortune.

Drainage ditch on Walshaw Moor
Drainage ditch on Walshaw Moor

And then, of course, there is the lack of any ‘polluter pays’ element in all this. We know that land use can exacerbate flood risk. We know that overgrazed, deforested hillsides shed water into people’s homes pretty quickly, and, likewise, we know that heavily burned, drained and deforested grouse moors (the playgrounds of the rich, shooting chicken-like birds for fun) also are good at shedding water.  Did you hear the Hebden Bridge resident mention the grouse moors above her town (that’ll probably be Walshaw Moor) on yesterday’s Today programme?

So, to the extent that grouse moor management has contributed to flooding (see here and George Monbiot here), we are all paying for the human costs – all of us, the many, not the few who benefit from the grouse shooting.

So, residents of York, Leeds, and the Calder Valley, sign this e-petition to ban driven grouse shooting to reduce your own risk of flooding, and to reduce the financial cost to all of us for paying for the ongoing damage.

Drainage ditches on Walshaw Moor
Drainage ditches on Walshaw Moor


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12 Replies to “Flood re”

  1. I have a meeting on Friday to discuss the flooding in Cumbria.

    Is it worth going!

    We are told Carlisle has £25 million to spend but will this be extra height on the flood bank only as it cost £35 million last time with £1/2 Billion worth of damage. No one has put the bill for this last flood yet but given increased costs over 10 years it is likely to beat £1/2 Billion! Obviously we don’t want to see Rory in his wellies again!!

  2. Hi Mark.

    In simplistic terms the cost of the risk of the few is transferred to the wealth of the many. It’s basic insurance stuff and has always been this way. Flood Re doesn’t make insurance cheap for those at increased risk of flooding but it does make it more affordable for them. It’s not fair but those who present lower risk do pay less than those who present a higher risk.

    Homes built after 2009 are not eligible so as to prevent new developers saying ‘sod it, let Flood Re sort it out’ and building on cheap high risk land.

    The biggest issue with flood risk (and you hit one example square on the head) is poor or worse still, irresponsible, land management. The faster that water drains from a given plot the better it is for that land owner, at the same time the worse the risk becomes for land to where that water runs. You’ve correctly pointed out that risk management is often overlooked (intentionally??) to favour upstream farming and land use. The sooner this mad, myopic issue of fast draining of upland is resolved, the better life will be for all of us. And in that, I include our Hen Harriers.

  3. Perhaps they’re scared that all of us low livers won’t be able to afford to live on the flood plains anymore and will all want to build houses on the hills, perhaps that would work well. All of the run off from our house and land drains could then readily flood the deserted cities without causing damage. We could start with relocation of York onto Fylingdale moor.

    Whilst I completely agree with you on the need to address the causes of flooding (including the uses of moorland), I’m not so sure that the reasons for people living on flood plains are as simple as that they are too stupid to live on the hills. And whilst governments (national and local) should be made to pay for their continued errors in planning policy this would inevitably be passes on to us in increased taxation anyway.

    Consider insurance re as a new form of taxation and it will be a whole lot more palatable.

  4. Lack of ‘joined-up’ thinking again. Divide and rule. And flood victims probably paid for the drainage of the moors through the various subsidies. We still pay the tithe to the landlords.

  5. “I’m not sure how happy I am”

    Rejoice! Losers pay for winners. Think of it like subsidised windmills

  6. It’s a basic principle of insurance that those of us who don’t claim are subsidising those who do – we all pay our premiums but only a few get a payout. Flood re’s aim is to force companies to insure properties that would otherwise be regarded as too a high a risk. But it is only offered to householders, not shops or other small businesses who may still be unable to get insurance without paying an exorbitant premium or having an to fund unaffordable excess themselves.
    The government has put that nice Elizabeth Truss and Oliver Letwin in charge of finding ways to improve flood resilience – about as effective as a marshmallow flood barrier – https://www.gov.uk/government/news/national-flood-resilience-review-government-action-to-tackle-floods.

  7. Is it still the intention of Government to ‘persuade’ developers to build 20% of new houses in flood plains?

    Is it true that the Environment Agency are directed to focus resources on areas of high value so big cities and towns (including new) will be priorities?

    If so, then this is an excellent way of getting someone else to fund any subsequent mess?

    If insurance bills escalate too much then less people can afford to insure themselves?

    Is this sensible use of flood plains when they are needed for a more sustainable purpose?

  8. I’ve found Deiter Helm quite compelling as an introduction to the subject.


    Para 12 is of particular relevance –

    House building location can be further perversely incentivized by flood risk insurance and emergency funding. Providing insurance below the true costs of the risk insured leads to adverse site selection. Put another way, if new house-owners faced the full costs of both flooding to themselves, and flooding risk increases to others, far more attention would be paid to the location of new housing. FloodRe is the latest example of the deliberate attempt to cross subsidize poor risk locations – on a voluntary basis.

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