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UK Facing Heightened Flood Risks, Claims New Report

February 7, 2020

By Paul Homewood


I thought extortion was illegal!


From Business Green:



The number of UK residents facing significant flood risk is larger than the population of Birmingham and Manchester combined, according to a major new report from a coalition of leading environmental campaign groups.

The numbers at risk were highlighted in a study from The Climate Coalition, a collection of over 130 organisations including conservation bodies WWF, the RSPB, and The Wildlife Trusts, aid agencies such as Oxfam, and community groups like the Women’s Institute.

The UK is experiencing wetter winters and more frequent and intense weather extremes, which scientists have attributed to climate change and which are widely expected to worsen over the coming decades. The report outlines how communities have suffered in the aftermath of floods, such as those in Yorkshire and the Midlands at the end of last year.

The years 2007-19 have seen a major flood event nearly every year, with almost 100,000 properties damaged in England, according to data drawn by the report from the Environment Agency.

The November 2019 floods led to more than 2,250 insurance claims for flood damage from homeowners with at least £45 million expected to be paid out to cover damaged homes and possessions, according to information given to report authors by the Association of British Insurers (ABI). Coastal, surface or river flooding is now estimated to cause more than £1bn worth of damage a year in the UK.


The study referred to is this one:





The claim of 1.8m people at risk of flooding is absurd. We have seen similar claims made in the past by the Environment Agency and Committee on Climate Change, which have been easily discredited – see here.

But if 1.8m is a genuine figure, the major flooding events listed in the report are a pretty insignificant proportion, albeit extremely traumatic on a personal level:



The only major floods were in summer 2007 and winter 2015/16. But more on that later.

Let’s first address the claim of wet winters.

On the face of it, it is correct. However, when we drill down we see that the UK trend is almost solely due to greater rainfall in Scotland. In England there is no long term trend, or rise in the frequency of extremely wet winters:


Without wishing to dismiss the rest of the UK, it is of course England where the vast majority of those 1.8m live, and where all of the severe floods listed have occurred.

As for extreme rainfall in winter, the actual data shows the opposite. Peak rainfall in individual months during winter in England used to be far worse, with the wettest being Decembers in 1868, 1876 and 1914.

I have also looked at autumn and winter months combined, as many floods occur in autumn. Again we find exactly the same result – high rainfall months have been relatively scarce in the last two decades, and the most extreme months were in the 19th and early 20thC.




As for extreme daily rainfall, again we find no evidence of anything untoward, looking at the year as a whole:



Quite clearly the study’s claim of a heightened risk of floods does not stand up to scrutiny.

There are lots of numbers bandied around, but no assessment of how any of this fits into the long term perspective. For instance it is claimed that nearly every year since 2007 has seen a “major flood”. I would certainly dispute the use of the word major, because most of the floods listed have been purely localised events, such as the Fishlake flood last autumn.

But nevertheless, is it not the case that exactly the same statement could have been made about nearly every decade in the past? Similarly the claim of £1bn worth of damage every year. (I will ignore the desperate reference to the £360m paid out during the Beast from the East – As we are supposed to be seeing milder winters, such costs should drop significantly in years to come?)

For instance, the 1950s. A trawl through the Met Office monthly weather reports of the time finds these references to severe floods:


  • Feb 1950 – Considerable flooding in some districts.
  • Nov 1951 – Severe flooding in many parts of the country
  • Aug 1952 – Lynmouth floods
  • Nov 1952 – Serious flooding in Sussex
  • Jan 1953 – The Great North Sea floods
  • May 1953 – Severe storms brought heavy rain and floods, particularly in West Scotland causing “much damage”
  • June 1953 – Severe thunderstorms brought “exceptionally heavy rain” causing “severe flooding and considerable damage
  • July 1953 –Widespread thunderstorms seriously affected crops in West Midlands and Central Scotland, with local damage due to lightning and floods, with some loss of life.
  • Aug 1954 – Considerable flooding in some areas
  • Oct 1954 – Severe flooding in NW England, N Wales and S Scotland
  • Nov 1954 – Serious floods in many parts of the country
  • March 1955- Serious floods in the Midlands
  • July 1955 – Record daily rainfall in Dorset led to severe flooding there. (279mm at Martinstown is still the highest daily total for any station in the UK)
  • Aug 1956 – Widespread flooding
  • Oct 1957 – Floods in Wales and NW England, with 12.71 inch of rain recorded at Blaenau Ffestiniog in a four-day spell.
  • Nov 1957 – Torrential rain led to floods in many areas, particularly the Midlands
  • Sep 1958 – Widespread flooding in Wales

These are just the major flood events. There would be many more minor ones which never got a mention in the monthly summaries.

I suspect you could go back to virtually any decade and find a similar number of floods.


Naturally the insurance companies will make hay from using this as an excuse for putting up premiums. But it is shameful that climate scientists should enable this with their junk science.

And the authors of the study give the game away when they reveal their true objective:



The idea that cutting UK emissions will make Britain’s weather better belongs in the kindergarten, and not real science.

  1. Peter F Gill permalink
    February 7, 2020 5:02 pm

    In the old days the delta for climate change, rather than just weather, was 30 years, now it is a matter of days according to our friends above. In fact there is an argument connected with the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO) to increase the delta for climate change to 60 years. As regards flooding not dredging important water courses and therefore reducing flow rates and building on flood planes tends to increase flooding of homes which is what people worry about. This year we will be increasingly subjected to fairy stories about AGW and its deleterious effects especially by the BBC, the Grantham Institute and the other usual suspects mainly because of the planned jamboree in Glasgow later in the year. However, as Mike Haselar has pointed out elsewhere, Glasgow may be cancelled in view of the coronavirus should it become a pandemic which seems likely. I wonder if AGW will be partly responsible for spreading viruses? Over to Grantham on that one.

    • February 7, 2020 10:12 pm


      30 years? A few days? Naw, all you need is an intense 1 hour down pour and that is good enough to warrant a climate change extreme.

      30 years indeed, where have you been, we are talking about the post modern science of climate change here

      • Peter F Gill permalink
        February 8, 2020 12:56 pm

        Sorry you are quite right. I don’t know what I could have been thinking about. I attended an all day meeting at the Institute of Physics in London on Thursday and discovered that anthropogenic effects on climate are immediate, long lasting and people like me make things worse. I also learnt that I must not ask questions of almost any nature.

  2. Michael Adams permalink
    February 7, 2020 5:15 pm

    In my area, the local council sanctioned building houses on known water meadows. Luckily these houses have not been flooded yet but it must be only a question of time. I suspect that this is happening not just in my area so the risks to houses built on similar land nationwide must be greater than the rest of the housing stock and are likely to be included in flooding statistics at some point. How people are getting insurance for their properties is a mystery to me.

    Ever since I can remember, flooding somewhere every winter has made the news. The Lynmouth flood, which was caused by a unique set of circumstances, comes to mind, so this is nothing new and I’m sure it will continue. What they could do to help the situation is return to keeping rivers free to do what they are supposed to do, act as run offs from the land, and keep them from being choked up with vegetation. That would mean of the Environmental Agency changing it’s policy of course.

    If you really want to know if the risks have increased just look at insurance rates. I haven’t but I know my premiums haven’t gone up unduly and I have a river bordering my property.

  3. February 7, 2020 5:22 pm

    It might be Marley’s ghost intoning, “Remember the Somerset Levels”. The additional water makes not a jot of difference to the coast, Sandwich was cinque port but it is today 3 miles inland. No, the common attribution of sea rise has many a place that refutes any thought of such a phenomena occurring. No, the problem is inland and the reasons for flooding are manifold, lack of dredging, inappropriate positioning of building development, messing with the water table and the denuding of the catchment area of natural growth fir buffering outflow, loss of water meadows, over-zealous drainage schemes. That picture of inundation almost inevitably depicts a church on a promontory high above the inundation which establishes, at least to my mind a previous history mindful of the flood.

  4. Brian Blagden permalink
    February 7, 2020 5:22 pm

    This is an interesting paper that suggests that recent flooding is not unprecedented.

    From the abstract:

    ‘Here, we show how historical records from Britain have improved understanding of high-magnitude floods, by examining past spatial and temporal variability. The findings identify that whilst recent floods are notable, several comparable periods of increased flooding are identifiable historically, with periods of greater frequency (flood- rich periods).Statistically significant relationships between the British flood index, the Atlantic Meridional Oscillation and the North Atlantic Oscillation Index are identified.

    Click to access Macdonald%20&%20Sangster%202017%20HESS.pdf

  5. February 7, 2020 5:32 pm

    Of course, the reason insurance companies are concerned is that there are more of us, in general we are wealthier, and there is less land on which to build new homes. So more and more flood plain land is built upon.Add to that the fact the people have more, and more expensive, goods an chattels and you can see where the real statistics lie.

  6. George Herraghty permalink
    February 7, 2020 5:37 pm

    Short memory syndrome!

    The Great Flood of Moray 1829: The ‘Muckle Spate’ – the water was one foot under the central span of Telford’s famous Craigellachie Bridge. Rabbits and hares were spotted sitting on logs washed 10 miles out to sea, from passing fishing boats!

  7. Phoenix44 permalink
    February 7, 2020 5:59 pm

    They appear to rely on two attribution studies but those are deeply flawed, if not just utter junk. More propaganda designed to convince those who don’t understand science, that science is saying we must act.

  8. Martin Howard Keith Brumby permalink
    February 7, 2020 6:35 pm

    Their “Home Truths” AgitProp brochure pictured by Paul shows King’s Staithes, York. I would guess that King’s Staites gets flooded every couple of years and has done practically since Adam was a lad. The King’s Arms (just out of sight at the left) even has its cellar upstairs.

    I wonder if they point this out?

    ‘Home truths’ my arse.

    The Mafia has more honesty.

    Do they point out that the UK population has been increased by 10%? Wouldn’t that increase claims by itself?

  9. GeoffB permalink
    February 7, 2020 6:42 pm

    As soon as I see “Grantham Institute” I assume its all b*llsh*t.

  10. MrGrimNasty permalink
    February 7, 2020 7:00 pm

    Release the beavers!

    Amazing what a bit of PR spin can do. Gray Squirrels were made to sound like the saviours of the planet the other day, someone estimated how many trees they ‘planted’ and ignored all the damage/killing/disease that comes with them.

    • bobn permalink
      February 7, 2020 8:39 pm

      Yep, and they have released Otters in the rivers. Result. Swan and other waterfowl numbers in decline as otters eat all their eggs and young. More otters = less fish, swans, ducks, moorhens, coots ….!

  11. February 7, 2020 9:14 pm

    I’m always amazed at how stupid (or gullible) the general public are. Who in their right mind would buy a house built on a floodplain, especially with all the BBC propaganda about increased flooding because climate change? Of course they do say that the intelligence of the average person is pretty low (and that half the population are below the average).

    • February 7, 2020 10:17 pm


      Most people will assume that if planning permission has been given then everything must be ok. Also most people will only see the house in nice conditions and the closeness of a river on a calm sunny day is very appealing.

      I sat on the environment agency flood defence committee for 8 years and they always advise the council not to allow permission but they have no legal over ride

      The councils are under intense pressure to build, the developers have deep pockets and offer them inducements and also have the best lawyers if the inducements don’t work

      • Athelstan. permalink
        February 8, 2020 12:13 pm

        It’s got a name – graft.

  12. john cooknell permalink
    February 7, 2020 9:17 pm

    The problem is the planning system, if you build in a flood zone you need a “flood risk assessment” (FRA), and that is where the problems begin.

    I have not read a FRA from a developer that says “too much risk of flooding do not build here” . they all say “it is fine to build here”. In most cases the FRA is not checked by the EA or anyone else at the planning authority with knowledge. So the development gets approved. the worst offenders are the local councils themselves, they are so desperate for development land.

    The FRA depends on fluvial flood modelling techniques, there should be robust referencing of historical flooding but in most cases that is skated over, and nobody checks or takes any notice of objectors as what do they know compared to model outputs from experts.

    So that is why many development sites get flooded before they are even finished, nothing to do with climate change and increased flooding, just a failure of the planning system.

    Who is to blame, well of course it is Politicians, they invent the “rools” to protect them and their bureaucracy, the “rools” do not protect the public.

  13. Len Vaness permalink
    February 7, 2020 9:41 pm

    Following EU wetlands regulations causes increased flooding.

  14. Graeme No.3 permalink
    February 7, 2020 11:34 pm

    Years ago I visited Windsor in N.S.W. It was settled in the early 1800’s. My father (engineer) took one look and said “they have bad floods here”. When I asked how he knew he pointed out that all the old houses were on the ridge above the river. (a river rise of 36 feet had been measured at the old bridge).
    The Council had just allowed 2 sub-divisions on the river flats just upstream of the town. When the drought ended 3 years later all but one of those houses were flooded, and twice again in the next year.
    The sole dry house had been built on poles so 10 foot of clearance underneath where the owner normally parked his car and dinghy. When the flood came he parked his car on the nearest rise and commuted back & forth on his dingy. (He had made arrangements so his electricity also continued). Thanks to his foresight he could sit on his balcony with a cold beer and watch the furniture etc. float by.
    Lesson learnt and when I came to buy in Sydney I was very conscious of the possibility of flooding. I left when people started building on the banks of the creek that ran behind. The owners are probably blaming climate change now.

  15. Stuart permalink
    February 7, 2020 11:47 pm

    in 2005 there was a great flood in Ryedale, actually Bilsdale in its upper reaches which sent a tidal wave down the valley. 1.5m high it destroyed umpteen bridges and swamped the visitor centre at Rievaulx Abbey, flooded parts of Helmsley too. I remember the day well.

    Before the CC alarmists could shout CC in action some basic research was done that showed an identical flood 247 years earlier which killed umpteen sheep and cattle and destroyed all the same bridges and killed if I recall rightly 9 people….in other words a 250 year event.

    And BTW my house was flooded in 2007…

  16. jackbackband permalink
    February 8, 2020 12:15 am

    Have a look at these images of a small town near where I live.
    This was about five years ago.
    Driving through it now it is impossible to figure out how so much water could possibly accumulate like that.
    Impossible for an outsider that is.
    All over the news was climate change global warming we have to stop the modern world etc you heard it all already.
    Have a look here ….

    The reality …. the council stopped the river dredging that goes back nearly a thousand years …. seriously.
    They stopped thirty miles of tree cutting and debris removal because it costs money.
    850 years ago King Edward the first of England built a ring of huge castles each no more than a days horse ride from the next.
    Two miles outside St Asaph is one of those castles built by the side of the river so that supplies men weapons could be brought in should the Welsh people try to starve out the castle in a town called Rhuddlan that was supposed to become the capital of Wales …. that never happened but the buildings still stand.
    The castle was four miles inland from the sea.
    The river was shallow.
    So as far back as 850 years ago the river was dredged constantly to make the passage of sea going ships possible as far as the castle.
    It was in fact one of the best paid jobs for miles around and helped pacify the Welsh people enhancing the security of the English overlords.
    The castle still stands.
    The problem is the river is shallow.
    Dredging constantly was the only way ships were going to sail inland to the castle.
    When these modern day floods happened there was a heavy storm of wind and rain and a mass of dead undergrowth washed into the river along with huge branches that broke of trees and in fact whole ancient trees floating downriver.
    Under a five hundred year old bridge there was an accumulation of this timber and flotsam and jetsam in an undredged river …… the result …. the pictures in the link.The people of St Asaph don’t like to hear stories of man made climate change when they know it was manmade spending cuts ….. that have now cost a small fortune in defences and cutting and clearing and …..dredging.
    Take a look at the pictures and feel free to check out this story ….. I live in the hills around here.

  17. Colin MacDonald permalink
    February 8, 2020 10:39 am

    England has seen a large population increase and has a fair amount of floodplain topography, of course the Graun et al are cool with the increase, deem immigration to be an unmitigated good, the thing that drives building on flood prone areas. They would have us solve flooding by the ludicrously convoluted route of restricting our economic output and therefore carbon emissions, somewhere down the line this will reduce significant rain events, assuming the rest of the World wears a green hair shirt too. An assumption too far, perhaps?
    In the bit of the UK which HAS experienced a significant increase in rainfall on the other hand we see no trend in flooding, of course we haven’t seen the increase in population and in any case don’t have handy floodplains to stick these people. You might think that it would be more effective and cheaper just to curb immigration, but no, our green masters prefer complicated and expensive.

  18. MrGrimNasty permalink
    February 8, 2020 10:52 am

    Monty Don has become a right-on believer. Nearly every other answer to gardener questions blames climate change nowadays, even though it defies logic/common sense/science for the particular issue at hand.

    Today’s article, rather than a question reply, spouts similar misinformation.

    Box blight, like nearly every other disease problem of latter years, is entirely down to lax bio-security, and the international nursery plant trade. Ironically, it is the very trendy garden plants and ideas that Monty promotes that encourages the import and introduction of these diseases and habitat destruction (e.g. tree ferns he so likes).

    No one knows how box blight came to the UK for sure. What is certain is that it is widespread in Central America. It was first noticed at a PLANT NURSERY in Hampshire in 1994. (Similarly the box tree moth came in on plants from E.Asia.)

    It spreads so easily, on the wind, as spores in soil etc. it is inevitable that it will spread widely to any land that isn’t over 1000s of miles of oceans away.

    The UK weather is AND ALWAYS WAS ideally suited, and indeed, Contrary to Monty’s assertions, the fungus is unperturbed by the harshest cold – although it goes dormant, and it is most active in Spring and Autumn, being optimum wet/temperatures for growth and reproduction.

    The range of climates under which this fungus can and does survive/thrive, now it has spread nearly all over the world, makes Monty’s assertions complete BS. The problem is that the spores got to the UK, not imagined problems of climate change.

  19. Gerry, England permalink
    February 8, 2020 1:16 pm

    One of regular writers for South East Farmer starts a piece by referring to incompetence by the Environment Agency regarding flood warnings. The first EA statement said that flooding was not likely – the second was to say how deep the flood now was!!!! And it was in a field with bee hives that were now floating around. Some were saved but they all could have been if warned. And as every landowner probably now knows, the failure of the EA to do its job causes most floods to be worse than necessary if not totally avoidable. The writer suggests the way forward is to take the job away from the EA – which I think is far better then trying to reform a corrupt body – and to reform the Drainage Boards who would have the landowners involved to manage the watercourses as managing them from source to sea or larger river is the only sensible way, but then when did government in this country at any level show much sense?

  20. dennisambler permalink
    February 8, 2020 2:00 pm

    You can keep looking and keep finding:

    1852 (August to December)
    Remarkable rainfall totals over these 5 months: total for this period (EWP)=717mm (or ~170% of the long-term average). November in particular was exceptionally wet; with 203mm for the EWP, this represented some 220% of the average, and is the wettest November (and the second wettest any-month) in that series.

    By November and through December, the Thames Valley from Vauxhall to Windsor resembled a ‘vast lake’. Oxford was standing in a ‘sea of water’, the Cherwell and Isis being several miles wide. At several places along the river, (e.g. Maidenhead, Reading, Ealing and Uxbridge), the principal corn fields were inundated by several feet of water.

    Flooding extended to other areas in the southeast of England – Epsom, Dartford, Lewisham and Charlton all mentioned. On the North Kent railway, the valley of the Medway and the marshes along the Thames were one expanse of water for many miles. Parts of Chatham, Rochester and Stroud (all Kent) were also flooded. At Guildford, Chertsey, Woking and Battersea, the flood was several feet deep. Many other like reports across the region.

    1894 (November)
    Major flooding across the mid/upper Thames Valley (i.e. non-tidal leg). The differences above the normal (“summer”) prediction at various points were: Oxford +3.7ft; Reading +6.8ft; Maidenhead +7.9ft; Windsor +8.9ft; Kingston +11.5ft.

    At the upper Thames recording point of Shillingford Wharf, the flood-level was 46.96m above OD, the second highest at this point, (and up to 2003), in that record. The Thames burst its banks and affected scores of towns / hamlets along the river, and many thousands were driven from their homes. (The peak date of the flood events is given as the 17th November.)

    The floods were stated at the time to be so spectacular and widespread as to be regarded as the greatest floods ever, and a ‘yardstick’ by which future inundations are measured. Flooding was also reported from other parts of southern England, following high rainfall in both October & November. Using the EWP series, the anomaly for October + November ~ 130% of the all-series average. [ see also 1774 ]

    More at: with index to earlier and later periods. Ex Bracknell Met man,
    as opposed to modern Exeter Met man.

  21. dennisambler permalink
    February 8, 2020 2:30 pm

    A pertinent piece at WUWT:

    “Dr. Roger Pielke Jr. makes note of this in Why Climate Advocates Need To Stop Hyping Extreme Weather

    It appears that 2019, is on track to continue the record of good news. Robert Muir-Wood of RMS, a leading catastrophe modeling firm, wrote a month ago “Almost three months ago we passed a remarkable record in catastrophe loss. And yet no one seems to want to celebrate it. No banner headlines in the newspapers. . . The first half of 2019 generated the lowest catastrophe insurance loss for more than a decade.” Muir-Wood labelled 2019 “the year of the kitten.” With two months left, cross your fingers.”

  22. Pancho Plail permalink
    February 8, 2020 11:36 pm

    Slightly off topic, but not much. It is late Saturday evening and the Met Office web site is telling me that in my locality the wind is blowing at 21mph gusting up to 37mph. My Netatmo weather equipment tells me that I have a wind speed of 5kph and the biggest gust this evening was 26kph an hour ago and currently gusting to 12kph.
    This seems to be yet another example of the MO exaggerating the severity of weather, and I can’t think why they would want to cause alarm amongst members of the public.

  23. February 9, 2020 6:17 am

    “UK Facing Heightened Flood Risks, Claims New Report”

    And Antarctica facing heightened risk of AGW driven catastrophic ice melt and sea level rise after it was discovered that a temperature of 65F was measured at Esperanza Base

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