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University of Southampton flooding expert calls on home owners to take more responsibility

Published: 6 January 2003

This week's heavy rainfall and threats of flooding throughout the UK have led once again to much speculation as to how a more effective flood-defence strategy can be designed, particularly in the light of the insurance industry's adjustment of price to reflect the increased risk.

Professor Michael Clark, a flooding expert at the GeoData Institute at the University of Southampton who recently published a report on "Insurance and UK Floods: a strategic re-assessment" (jointly funded by government and the insurance industry) recognises that the threat of flooding will not go away.

"We are in a recurrent pattern", comments Professor Clark. "With climate change leading to drier summers and wetter winters, the threat of flooding is likely to increase. Big engineering defences have been erected in some urban areas and have proved to be highly effective, but it is unrealistic to adopt this as our only strategy - especially in rural areas. A concrete-lined Britain is neither affordable nor desirable, ecologically or aesthetically."

Professor Clark calls on the public and private sectors to work with insurance companies to share the increased risks. He also calls on home owners to take more responsibility for their own homes.

"We take for granted that we need to tackle personal risks such as maintaining our cars or increasing the security of our houses, but it does not seem to occur to us to flood-proof our houses", comments Professor Clark. "This is something that many of us may need to consider if we are to remain dry in a wetter world, and one in which insurance is getting more expensive. Luckily, the new "Floodmark" scheme will allow us to check whether available flood-proofing devices have passed stringent testing. Only by government, insurers and the public working together will we get a long-term solution to the recurrent trauma of flooding".

Notes for editors

The University of Southampton is a leading UK teaching and research institution with a global reputation for leading-edge research and scholarship. The University, which celebrated its Golden Jubilee in 2002, has 20,000 students and over 4,500 staff and plays an important role in the City of Southampton. Its annual turnover is in the region of £235 million.

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