This is what Yorkshire businesses must do now because flooding is on its way

0
Have your say

With flooding a matter of when, rather than if, businesses in the Humber can soon look for advice from a new £3.4m innovation centre in Hull.

The University of Hull is recruiting staff for the centre, which was launched on Friday, following a successful bid for £1.9m from the European Regional Development Fund.

People cycling through water on Cleveland Street in Hull, after the floods of 2007, which brought devastation to the city and Sheffield and left three people dead

People cycling through water on Cleveland Street in Hull, after the floods of 2007, which brought devastation to the city and Sheffield and left three people dead

The aim is to help small and medium sized businesses develop innovative solutions to mitigate flood risk, improve response to floods and increase their resilience.

It comes after the Environment Agency's chairwoman Emma Howard Boyd said flood planners must prepare for the worst with current trends suggesting the global temperature could rise between 2C and 4C by the year 2100.

Some 5.2m homes and businesses are at risk of flooding in England, including significant portions of eastern England and Yorkshire.

The area around the Humber is the second most flood-prone in the UK, with 205,000 properties, 32,500 businesses and 115,000 hectares of land at risk of tidal, fluvial or surface water flooding.

Motorists drive through deep flood water on the A63 into Hull on June 25, 2007.

Motorists drive through deep flood water on the A63 into Hull on June 25, 2007.

What can businesses do now?

Prof Dan Parsons, from the University of Hull, said planning was key.

"The risk is going to stay there and it's going to get worse," he said.

"Lots of businesses are not very well prepared for flooding and the two things that go hand in hand is being better prepared, which ultimately means recovery is quicker.

The village of Catcliffe near Sheffield under water after two days of heavy rain in June 2007.

The village of Catcliffe near Sheffield under water after two days of heavy rain in June 2007.

"Most businesses have a risk register to cover risks like changes of prices. Flooding should be right up there.

"Having a plan in place and how you would action that is important.

"Where do your staff live? Are they in flood risk zones? If staff are preoccupied dealing with their homes being flooded, then the ability to recover is curtailed.

"Every day they are concentrating on recovery or a clean up they are not concentrating on their core business."

There are also practical steps - raising electrics, installing a flood barrier and a water resilient floor.

As well as helping businesses prepare for flooding - the new innovation centre on the Science Park at the University will give an opportunity to develop a whole host of new products

Businesses will get to partner with world-leading academics and researchers to undertake collaborative research and innovation projects.

They will have access to state-of-the-art computer-aided design, high performance computing, rapid prototyping (using a 3D printer) and immersion testing labs to test their ideas.

One idea is putting water butts on every downspout in the city - another using sensors on windscreen wipers to provide accurate data about the intensity of rainfall

They could capture a colossal volume of water falling on the city's roofs - as long as they are empty before the rain falls and the valve on the outfall is closed.

"That can be done through the Internet of things approach. A smart water butt that closes and opens automatically based on weather forecasts," said Prof Parsons.

"The most exciting thing about the flood innovation centre is the things we haven't yet thought of.

"I would be utterly flabbergasted if there isn't a whole lot of ideas that will come out we haven't thought about yet."

Another idea is using data from windscreen wipers as real-time rainfall indicators.

The Environment Agency estimates that £1bn a year will be needed just for conventional flood defences.

The grant is one of a series of ERDF-funded projects at the University aimed at fostering an "innovation ecosystem" among businesses in the Humber.

"It was launched today (Friday) and we are in the process of recruiting the team," said Prof Parsons.

"We will have the team in place and the equipment installed in very short order.

"There will be a team going out to the business community and exploring possibilities and options with businesses."