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Market Report: Stormforce : Extreme impact
While climate change is making our weather much more unpredictable, flash flooding and other serious events are occurring with greater frequency.
Several events this year suggested that weather patterns continue to become more unpredictable and extreme in their impact. Intense rainfall led to 1,500 residents of Whaley Bridge in Derbyshire being evacuated on 1 August after damage to the Toddbrook Reservoir dam wall threatened to flood the town. Following this, the start of October brought flash flooding to many parts of the UK: on the first of the month the Environment Agency issued 70 flood warnings across England. And on 8 November, severe flooding hit the east Midlands and northern England, causing one fatality.
Such incidents have focused attention on mitigating the impact of the erratic weather by adding appropriate measures in the built environment. Aggregate Industries, for example, which offers a range of construction and infrastructure materials, has developed a variety of products to help in creating sustainable drainage systems (SuDS), from aggregates designed to offer effective drainage characteristics, to permeable paving to enable water filtration.
More profound extremes
Paul Wagstaff, the company’s Head of Product Management, said, “While the UK’s weather has always been difficult to predict, recent years have seen a shift towards more profound extremes as climate change continues to take its toll. This September, for example, ended with a sudden heatwave, with some areas reaching highs of 25C, only to be followed less than two weeks later with the recent tirade of torrential rain and flooding.
“The reality is that this type of erratic weather is only going to increase, along with storm intensity and regularity - placing increased onus on flood risk measures. After all, it’s now estimated that five million homes are in flood risk areas and the annual probability that two thirds of these homes will be affected is around 10%.
“As such, the case for SuDS, whereby the clever use of flood defence measures that mimic natural processes - such as green roofs and grassland tranches for water capture, through to permeable paving to allow water follow through - can make a huge difference to slowing, if not halting, the flow should a flood happen.”
However, the Committee on Climate Change (CCC), which offers independent advice to the government on building a low-carbon economy, has warned that the UK has not prepared properly
to deal with flash flooding and other impacts. In its annual progress report published last July, the CCC stated that funding for programmes to tackle problems resulting from global heating had been cut.
Tackling climate change
The CCC said that, while progress had been made in some areas, more needed to be done to tackle climate change more widely. Tree planting rates, for example, had missed targets every year since they were set in 2013, and the UK was experiencing more short, sharp bursts of rain that could cause flash flooding. It also noted that the amount of urban green space had fallen from 63% in 2001 to 55% in 2018, reducing the potential to absorb water and to cool the built environment.
Against this background it would seem that the likelihood of climactic extremes is not going to decrease any time soon. With many people living and working in areas that could be at risk from flooding, those affected will need equipment such as pumps to deal with the immediate impact, followed by items ranging from dryers and dehumidifiers, to pressure washers and floor cleaners to help with the restoration work. Hirers are ideally placed to provide this, and this Market Report gives a brief look into some of the latest specialist products available. •