Continuing with our climate change and sustainability series, this week Luke talked to flood risk expert Jeff Neal to understand how flood risk to property will change in the future.

Jeff is an Associate Professor at the University of Bristol and Chief Scientific Officer at start-up company Fathom. Jeff and the team at Bristol and Fathom research present day flood risk in the UK, but also use computer models to simulate risk in the future.

Luke: How could climate change affect how we assess flood risk?

Jeff:

The Environment Agency estimated that 5.2 million properties are at risk of flooding in the UK. We’ve done recent work on how this might change in the future, and we’ve looked at three types of flooding. We’ve looked at coastal flooding, fluvial flooding which is flooding from rivers and we’ve also looked at surface water flooding that’s kind of very localised flooding from extreme thunderstorm rainfall and these kind of things.

And what we see for some of the more extreme climate scenarios in the future is up to 24% rise in the number of properties at substantial risk of flooding.

We also see that across the country that picture is very different in terms of how your risk might increase in the future. In certain locations, particularly around South Wales and the Thames basin where we see very large increases relative to some areas that actually see very little increase in risk in future.

So, we’re going to see increasing inequality in terms of risk, and also an increase in the overall amount of risk, with some places having quite large increases. We would expect that insurers in particular will look at this information and over time we might see a response in terms of the premiums they are looking to charge.

And so, in terms of property, very much it’s important to be thinking about risks to your property because your insurer will, and you might want to consider that when you’re purchasing a future property. And I’d expect values to change as a result of that also.