Country report england and wales



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a) Question asked was ‘Were you aware of the flood risk in this area before you were first flooded?’

b) Question asked was ‘Are you aware that this area is defined as a flood risk area?’

c) Question asked was ‘Before the recent flooding, were you aware that your address is in an area at risk from flooding?’

d) Question asked ‘Were you aware of the possibility of flooding when you moved to this home?’ Question was only asked of those who believed their house to be at some risk. Others are included with those not aware.


Awareness is a difficult concept to define and measure and needs to be time bounded. The responses on awareness are very different in the different surveys, mainly because the questions asked were different. A large proportion of the respondents in the flooded sample in the Intangibles Survey were unaware of the flood risk in the area before they were first flooded. Most of them had been flooded for the first time in the recent flood.
Unlike the flooded respondents, the at risk respondents were asked about their current rather than their prior awareness of flood risk. Some of these respondents had witnessed the recent flooding in their area although they had not been flooded inside their homes. Others had moved to their current address after the recent event, but may have been informed about the flooding on moving or since living in the area. Recent Environment Agency awareness raising campaigns may have influenced current awareness of those at risk. There was variation by area among those at risk in the Intangibles Survey with 100% awareness in some areas (RPA/FHRC, 2004: 56).

Those questioned in the Warnings Survey, most of whom (70%) had experienced flooding inside their home in the most recent event, were asked about their awareness prior to that recent flooding. More of those questioned in the Warnings Survey than those flooded in the Intangibles study had been flooded more than once and that may partially account for greater awareness of flooding prior to the recent event. Certainly those who experienced one or more floods inside their homes prior to the most recent event were more likely to be aware of the risk (76% compared with 48% for those lacking flood experience).

Among flooded respondents in the Intangibles Survey, those who owned their property outright (usually older and more long-term residents) were significantly more likely to be aware than those still buying their property, and they, in turn, were more likely to have prior awareness of the flood risk than those renting or in other forms of tenure. However, in the Warnings Survey difference in awareness according to tenure was not significant. Awareness also varied according to length of residence in the Intangibles Survey, with very long term residents (30 years or more) and short term residents (less than five years) most likely to have prior knowledge. In the Warnings Survey, those resident 20 years or more were more likely than more recent residents to be aware of the risks, but the differences were not statistically significant.
Prior awareness among the flooded in the Intangibles Survey and in the Warnings Survey did not differ according to gender, age or social class. Thus, the key social variables which might be expected to have some influence on awareness do not appear to be important. The type of property occupied was also not a factor meaning that those in vulnerable housing including basement, ground floor flats and mobile homes were not more aware of the risk than those with upper floor accommodation.
In both surveys, there were significant and marked variations in prior awareness according to the specific location where the interviews took place. This suggests that the nature of the events and flood history and possibly institutional factors such as awareness raising campaigns, social networks and community preparedness are more significant factors in flood risk awareness than individual characteristics.

In the Lower Thames Survey, the question about prior awareness was only asked of those who thought that there was some likelihood of their property flooding in the next five or 50 years at the time of the interview. Those who did not think so have been included with those with no awareness of the possibility of flooding when they moved to their home. The responses did not vary according to gender. There were significant differences according to age but they did not show a consistent trend or pattern. There were significant differences in prior awareness by social grade when those in the highest social grade groups were compared with the rest. Among the AB groups 40% claimed that they knew of the flood risk when they moved; for the other groups the proportion was only 26%. The AB social groups were no more likely to be river bank residents than other social grades and, perhaps surprisingly, also those who lived on the river bank were no more likely to have prior awareness of the flood risk than those living at a greater distance from the river in the Lower Thames Survey. Length of residence did not emerge as a significant factor in prior awareness among Lower Thames residents. There were no significant differences in awareness according to tenure. There were too few tenants for meaningful analysis and those buying their property were more aware than those owning it outright.

4.4.3 Flood risk constructions: the Lower Thames Survey

In the Lower Thames Survey, issues of flood risk perception were examined for a population living in an area with an approximately 1 in 50 risk of flooding, but in which the experience of flooding was limited. Respondents were asked a very general question about risk: ‘From what you know or have heard, how much if at all is your home at risk of flooding?’ Only 6% rated their property as ‘a great deal at risk’, 34% rated the risk as ‘a fair amount’, and the majority (53%) thought the risk ‘not very much’. Questioned in these very general terms, there were no significant differences in responses by gender, age, social class, length of residence and tenure. Respondents did differ significantly according to whether or not they had been flooded in some way at some time at the address (chi-square; p=0.001) with twice as many of the small group (44) who had some experience reporting their home to be ‘a great deal’ or a ‘fair amount’ at risk from flooding (68% compared with 33%). There were some significant differences according to whether or not respondents lived on the river bank and these tended to show river bank residents judging their property to be less at risk in general terms than non-residents (chi-square;p<0.01).

Likelihood of flooding

When a time period was associated with the flood risk, nearly a quarter of respondents who had experienced flooding thought that it was likely or certain that they would be flooded in the next five years. When asked about the flood risk to their home over the next fifty years, nearly half thought flooding to be likely or certain. Again, there were significant differences between those with some flood experience not necessarily of flooding inside the home and the non-flooded in this survey. The small group of residents (44) whose property had been flooded in some way at some time thought future flooding more likely than those lacking that experience. More than half of the flooded Lower Thames respondents (24) said that they were very or fairly likely to be flooded in the next five years. When asked about the possibility of flooding in the next 50 years, 57% (25) of flooded respondents thought that it was either fairly or very likely that they would be flooded, and the remaining 43% (19) thought it was certain that they would be flooded. Significant proportions of those without flood experience did not know what to answer particularly in the longer term. (Tables 4.4 and 4.5).

There were no significant differences in the flood risk perceptions of men and women in the Lower Thames nor were there significant differences according to social grade and length of residence. The significant differences that were found for age and tenure seemed mainly to lie in the proportions unable to give an answer, which were higher for the 65 age groups and the very small number of tenants. It appears, therefore, that while residents surveyed acknowledge a level of risk, for most of those without flood experience, the level was not associated with an immediate risk to their homes.
Table 4.4: Perception of likelihood of future flooding in next 5 years


How likely or unlikely do you think it is that your home will be flooded in the next 5 years?”

Lower Thames Sample

% (n=)

Lower Thames flooded*

% (n=)

Lower Thames not flooded*

% (n=)

Certain to be flooded (+1)

2 (5)

9 (4)

1 (1)


Very likely to be flooded (+2)

9 (18)

25 (11)

4 (7)

Fairly likely to be flooded (+3)

14 (28)

29 (13)

9 (15)

Fairly unlikely to be flooded (+4)

38 (78)

23 (10)

42 (68)

Very unlikely to be flooded (+5)

26 (53)

7 (3)

31 (50)

Certain not to be flooded (+6)


4 (8)

0

5 (8)

Don't know

8 (16)


7 (3)

8 (13)

N=

206

44

162

*Chi-square; p< 0.001
Table 4.5: Perception of likelihood of future flooding in next 50 years



How likely or unlikely do you think it is that your home will be flooded in the next 50 years?”

Lower Thames Sample

% (n=)

Lower Thames flooded*

% (n=)

Lower Thames not flooded*


% (n=)


Certain to be flooded (+1)

15 (32)

43 (19)

8 (13)

Very likely to be flooded (+2)

13 (27)

34 (15)

7 (12)

Fairly likely to be flooded (+3)

23 (48)

23 (10)

23 (38)

Fairly unlikely to be flooded (+4)

19 (39)

-

24 (39)

Very unlikely to be flooded (+5)

7 (14)

-


9 (14)

Certain not to be flooded (+6)

2 (4)

-

2 (4)

Don't know

20 (42)

-

26 (42)

N=


206

44

162

*Chi-square p< 0.001

River bank location was a significant factor in risk construction. There were significant (chi-square; p<0.01) if not very marked differences in the way the small category (70) of those whose property was immediately on the river bank (i.e where there were no properties between them and the river) and those who lived further away constructed the risk. The river bank residents were more likely to view the risk of their property being flooded in the next five years as certain or very likely compared with non-river bank residents (15% compared with 9%) and less likely to think that flooding in that time period was very unlikely or certain not to happen (24% compared with 32%). The way riverbank residents viewed the likelihood of flooding at their property in the longer term, over the next 50 years, also varied significantly (chi-square; p<0.001). Riverbank residents were more likely than non-river bank residents to consider flooding of their property within the next 50 years as very likely or certain (34% compared with 26%). However there were more riverbank residents who did not know (27% compared with 17%) and little difference in the proportions thinking that there was certain to be no flooding of their property over the next 50 years or that flooding in that time period was very unlikely.

Sources of information about flood risk

In the Lower Thames Survey, respondents who believed that their property was at some risk (those who thought their property was certain, very or fairly likely to be flooded in the next five or 50 years), were asked ‘How did you first find out about the risk of flooding to your home?’ The responses are shown in Table 4.6.


Table 4.6: Sources of information about flood risk: Lower Thames Survey


Source of information

%

I have been flooded

39

Its just obvious

14

Told by local residents

11

Environment Agency letter

8

Neighbours have been flooded

6

Media

6

Solicitors search

6

Environment Agency website


4

Local paper

3

Local Council

2

Water Company

2

Other

Live near a river/area

Garden/road flooded

Insurance application

Flood warning

36

13

9



3

2


N=

112




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