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Who loses if flood risk is reduced: should we be concerned?

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Choices are necessary and inevitable in resource management, and these inherently create losers and gainers. The benefits and beneficiaries from plans and schemes to reduce flooding have been researched over many years, but the losers have been almost completely neglected. We would define these as including both those who pay for flood risk management but gain nothing or little from these interventions, and those whose financial situation is adversely affected if flood risk management reduces the number and severity of the flood events that are to be faced. This paper describes research that explores these issues and seeks both to identify these losers, so defined, and to quantify the extent of their ‘loss’. We conclude that while we may not be concerned about the loss suffered by the general taxpayer or insurance premium payer, as the sums are small per household (although very large in total), we certainly should be concerned about other groups who either lose money or lose protection as a result of decisions to reduce risk generally and in specific local examples. These findings should not deter us from continuing to seek risk reduction through wise flood risk management but they should alert us to the fact that this brings losers as well as winners, and that the former deserve much more careful attention than has been the case in the past.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Flood Hazard Research Centre, Middlesex University, London N14 4YZ.

Publication date: 2012-06-01

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