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Aspiration and reality: flood policy, economic damages and the appraisal process

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Research shows that flood damage potential has increased significantly in the last 15 years. At the same time, flood policy has shifted away from simplistic flood defence towards ‘living with floods’ and ‘making space for water’. This paper explores the mis-match between the aspiration in policy ideals, the reality of rising potential economic damages and the inability of the flood risk appraisal process to match the aspiration with the reality. Unless investment appraisal procedures are changed, the increase in damages will undermine policy changes that seek a different pattern of flood risk management, away from economically dominated decision-criteria towards more sustainable objectives.

Keywords: England and Wales; flood damages; flood risk management; project appraisal; quantitative analysis

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Flood Hazard Research Centre, School of Health and Social Science, Middlesex University, Enfield EN3 4SA, Email:

Publication date: 2007-06-01

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