Hammersmith and Fulham residents urged to engage in flooding prevention plans


The borough is at risk of flooding.


By Nick Jukhoop

Hopes of a late summer have been dampened in the last few weeks after a few days of heavy rain, but greater concerns lie for residents of Hammersmith & Fulham as flooding risks are on the rise.

As a resident of the borough I often jog alongside the embankments near Hammersmith Bridge wondering what will happen to those properties close to the Thame’s engulfing tides in years to come.

However, the problem appears more widespread than that.  Recent figures by the Greater London Authority with data from the Environment Agency say 69,498 houses in the area are at risk.

In conjunction with Thames Water, Hammersmith & Fulham council formed a flooding scrutiny task group last year to look at the problem.

“There are large numbers of properties within the borough at risk of flooding from a number of different sources, including river, sewer and surface water flooding,” a council spokesperson said.

“We are committed to reducing the risk and impact of flooding. The task group has set a number of recommendations to the council which are currently being worked through.

The Council has also run a number of flooding road shows and done a consultation exercise to engage residents, although turn-out rate and responses have been low.

Recommendations that came out of last year’s discussions included Sustainable Urban Drainage Systems (SUDs), rainwater retention and biodiversity, and above all the mandate for key stakeholders to work together.

When the Flood and Water Management Act came out in 2010, a responsibility was put on different authorities to work together. 

Thames Water is responsible for sewer flooding, the Environment Agency takes care of surface water flooding and the various boroughs hold accountability for the communities that are affected.

According to Paul Cobbing (CEO National Flood Forum) these organisations working together to resolve the common problem presented a challenge but supporting local residents remains a priority.

“It used to be very bad.  It’s getting better but there is a long way to go to make sure everyone is around the table and making their full contribution,” he said.

“We are in constant discussion with the government and the one area we are pushing hard on is insurance. 

“There is an agreement between the government and the Association of British Insurers which is due to expire soon and we are waiting on a new proposal. 

“We have been involved in that discussion for the last two and a half years to try to come up with a deal.

Hammersmith & Fulham is the fourth most expensive borough in the country, both to rent and buy property, but at the same time many are at risk in terms of insurance and saleability.

In addition to the national consultation which will hopefully bring a new system of insurance for those at risk of flooding, residents are being encouraged to engage their local authorities and other organisations to seek advice.

A study by Norwich Union of 1,500 UK residents living in areas hit by the summer 2007 floods revealed that people had done little or nothing to reduce the risk of future damage.

Some 83% of people living in Gloucester, Tewkesbury, Hull, Sheffield and Rotherham took the view that there was nothing they could do to protect their homes from flooding, and 95%, at the time of the survey had not taken any measures to protect their properties from flooding.

2012 was the UK’s wettest year on record and in response a helpline has been made available by the National Flood Forum to give people the chance to take ownership of their flood-risks as much as they can.

“We are working with local communities to help put in the right maintenance and management that is really going to help them in future,” explained Mr Cobbing.

“There are a number of quick things you can do if you are going to flood that can save you a lot of distress.

“Things like if you’ve only got a few minutes what do you move? It’s not the TV set.  It’s your photographs and key documents like your insurance papers.” 

For advice on flooding please call 01299-403055 or go to

Photo courtesy of chiefmoamba, with thanks.

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