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2/5 of London businesses at risk of flooding

Two-fifths of London businesses are at risk of climate-fuelled flash floods, new research shows. 

The analysis, which was conducted by insurer Zurich UK, reveals that of London’s 301,000 commercial buildings, 42% are at risk of being hit by surface water flooding. 

This analysis comes after Zurich’s data scientists pinpointed every commercial or mixed-used property in the city and mapped them against areas at risk of flooding from heavy rain. 

The borough of Kensington and Chelsea was found to have the highest percentage of buildings at threat of flooding (63%), followed by Hammersmith and Fulham (56%), Merton (54%), Southwark, (54%), and Wandsworth (53%). 

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Zurich’s analysis reveals nearly half (14,780) of London’s basement properties in commercial use are exposed to surface water flooding.

Of these, 5,692 face a ‘high’ or ‘extreme’ flood risk, with the greatest number of these buildings in Westminster. 

David Nichols, Zurich UK’s Chief Claims Officer, warned that failing to prepare for more regular bouts of heavy rain could have a knock-on impact on London’s economy which accounts for a quarter of the UK’s GDP.

He said: ‘Flash floods are one of the most serious climate threats facing the capital. Even at current levels of global warming, we saw the chaos heavy rains caused last year. More frequent and severe rainstorms could be hugely disruptive for Londoners, businesses and the city’s economy. Extreme weather is the new normal, and businesses need to adapt. It’s crucial that firms urgently assess the flood risks they face and put in place plans to respond and recover.’

Claire Harding, Research Director for The Centre of London, added: ‘London faces increasing risks from heatwaves and flash flooding: and our aging infrastructure isn’t keeping up. The impacts will often be worse for Londoners living in inner city areas with high population density and little green space. As well as making fast and steep cuts to our carbon emissions, government at all levels must invest in changes which make our city more resilient: improved drainage systems, green spaces that can act as giant sponges, and trees for shade and soil stability.’

 

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