Public attitudes towards flooding and property level flood protection (PLFP) uptake
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The number of residential properties at risk from flooding is predicted to rise as a result of the impacts of both climate change and increasing urbanisation. The flooding of residential properties comes with various impacts ranging from significant financial costs to less tangible social impacts, which are often lasting and of greater concern to flood victims. At the same time, it is now clear that large scale flood defence schemes are not always favourable due to their high cost, and there is an increasing onus on property owners to protect their own properties. The research reported here therefore aimed to investigate public attitudes towards flooding and property level flood protection (PLFP), and their willingness to pay (WTP) for such measures to reduce their exposure to flooding. This research employs different methods. An extensive stakeholder consultation in the form of questionnaire survey and focus group activities were used to collect primary data on flood experience and PLFP. Financial analysis of varying packages of PLFP products was carried out to assess the cost and benefit of using resistance and resilience products. Finally, a consultation with institutional flood risk management (FRM) stakeholders was undertaken to help contribute to the evidence needed to improve the uptake of PLFP measures. The stakeholder survey finding has highlighted significant financial impacts of household level flooding similar to previous studies, and suggests that flood education campaigns have been effective in raising the awareness and uptake of PLFP products. Again the findings have shown that more people are willing to contribute towards the cost of protecting their properties in order to reduce flood impacts, which appears to be at odds with past studies. The mean total WTP was £795, and was strongly linked with a number of factors including the scale of flood impacts and household income. In addition, the benefit cost ratios (BCR) of various PLFP products indicate that such measures are generally cost beneficial, and the manual resistance products in particular have higher (BCR>5) returns. Further analysis of models of incentivised PLFP scheme has demonstrated material benefit for both small scale and national level schemes, and signifies an opportunity to invest in a large scale PLFP projects. These findings are key and will provide valuable information needed to guide the development of strategies to encourage the uptake of PLFP products and improve community flood resilience.