We chat to Emily Howes and Lauren Davidson, Project Officers for Yorkshire Flood Resilience, one of three national Pathfinders being led by the Environment Agency. Together with JBA Consulting, the Integrated Catchment Solutions Programme (iCASP) and the Living with Water Programme, the Yorkshire Pathfinder project aims to raise awareness of the benefits of Property Flood Resilience (PFR) and encourage positive behavioural change to support its uptake.
Tell us about the project
We started our roles in January 2020 and the project will conclude in September 2021. We aim to empower communities to take proactive steps to reduce the risk of flood damage to their own properties. We’ve created a project website which hosts a range of online resources, including awareness articles, videos and blogs, downloads, animations and online training. We’re connecting with communities via public presentations and demonstrations and co-developing a community demonstration hub at Wilberforce College in Hull. We’re trying to reach a wide range of stakeholders, including residents and businesses, the property sector and trades, financial influencers and local authorities.
Are there any misconceptions around PFR that you’re looking to address through the project?
We’ve encountered some concerns about the impact of PFR on the appearance of homes and, consequently, their value. Every solution is bespoke to the property. Many of the measures on a property’s exterior are removable and interior adaptations can be incorporated into the design of a home. Once PFR has been installed, it’s the property owner’s responsibility to ensure that it is maintained and put into place in the event of a flood.
Some people may be put off by the cost, but it’s important to remember that the cost of repairing your home following flood damage could be considerably more, especially in areas at risk of repeated flooding. PFR is, therefore, a long-term investment, and more and more homeowners are recognising the importance of understanding their flood risk and installing these key measures.
Installing Property Flood Resilience can help to bring peace of mind, whilst also reducing the financial impact of flooding.
Emma Howard Boyd, Chair of the Environment Agency (EA) has praised the pathfinder projects for helping to “boost the uptake of property-level resilience measures in homes and businesses across the country,” which is one of the core themes of the EA’s FCERM Strategy. How are you/will you be working together through the project?
All three Pathfinder projects are in close contact and, although we each have slightly different approaches to encouraging take-up of PFR measures, we’re sharing best practice and hoping to put what we’ve learnt individually into some joint projects aimed at raising greater awareness of property flood resilience in other areas of the country during the coming months. We’ve each developed innovative ways of working with our local communities. These include demonstration sites, flood hubs, and online learning with real life case studies, which are soon to be launched.
What are some of the key messages you’ll be promoting?
We’re keen to encourage people to take action to reduce the risk of flood damage to their property. Installing Property Flood Resilience can help to bring peace of mind, whilst also reducing the financial impact of flooding. It’s important to understand the flood risk to your property; so be prepared and act now.
Property flood resilience reduces the damage that floodwater causes to your property and can therefore help to minimise the need for costly flood repairs, saving you money and enabling you to return to your property quicker after flooding. It can also reduce the need to make insurance claims if your property floods. As flood risk is predicted to increase in the future due to climate change, nobody should assume that flooding won’t happen to them. Therefore, it’s important that everyone understands their flood risk and how they can prepare and become more resilient, whether that’s through making a flood plan, considering having property flood resilience installed or making sure that the measures you have are maintained.
How do you hope the outcomes of the project will inform future PFR work?
The learning from our project will inform research into effective strategies to raise awareness of property flood resilience and flood risk. Our work is being used to inform academic studies, as well as educational courses about flood risk management. Through our educational work, we hope to inspire a flood-resilient future generation. We hope that, through engaging with Yorkshire Flood Resilience, more people in Yorkshire will be inspired to make their homes resilient to flooding.
Finally, how can people get involved?
You can find out more about our project and stay up to date with the latest information about flood resilience and flood risk management by visiting our website at www.yorkshirefloodresilience.co.uk. You can also access our wide range of online resources on the website. Follow us on social media for the latest project developments and news from the flood risk industry.