The devastating effects of flooding have been even more evident following the arrival of Storms Ciara and Dennis in recent weeks. As the country prepares itself for the impact of the rain forecast to continue falling in the UK over coming weeks, industry figures got together to mark the launch of the property flood resilience code of practice, hosted by Business in the Community (BITC) at the House of Commons on 10 February.
The code is the result of years of work that began as an industry-led Property Flood Resilient Round Table set up by the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs, following the publication of the Property Flood Resilience Action Plan in 2016.
At present there is a lack of regulation and accepted standards around the specification and deployment of property flood prevention (PFR) limiting its potential positive impact. According to Aviva, there are approximately 5.2 million properties at risk of flooding in the UK. While insurance can provide financial protection, there also needs to be a focus on prevention.
The code is funded by Aviva, Environment Agency, Welsh Government, Department for Infrastructure and Scottish Government; and is supported by Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management (CIWEM), Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) and Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICE). Further support and review was provided by a Project Steering Group made up of 55 Members from across industry, academia and the public sector.
While not all flood damage can be prevented, it can be limited. Flood resilience should have a tripartite approach: the government; insurance; and the customer. The code sets out six standards, each with an aim and number of requirements that need to be met:
- Hazard assessment
- Property survey
- Options development
- Commissioning and handover
- Operation and maintenance
Some of the recommended precautionary measures include:
- Install devices to prevent water from entering the property
- Flood gates on doors and windows
- Fit non-return valves on toilets or other waste systems
- Install self-closing air bricks
There are also recommended precautions to help minimise damage caused, including:
- Replace carpets with tile or concrete floors
- Move plug sockets above flood level
- Install free-standing kitchen units on legs
- Keep important items upstairs
- Replace concrete or tarmac outside with permeable materials
In addition to the code, two complementary guidance documents have been developed, one aimed at planners and the other aimed at homeowners and businesses.
Full guidance is expected to be published later in 2020.