The industry should welcome the report from the Benfield Grieg Hazard Research into flooding and take time to study it carefully

Norwich Union has taken the lead on this issue in recent years most notably through our successful Home & Dry campaign, which offered guidance to homeowners wanting to tackle the issue of planning at a local level. The ongoing campaign has led to the creation of a number of local action groups around the country many of which have brought pressure to bear on local authorities, as regards building on flood plains.

Our own digital flood-mapping project was commissioned last year and is the first privately sponsored digital map of the UK. Accurate to within a few feet, it will allow us to better understand the risk of flooding and is being made available to the Environment Agency (EA). Over the course of 2003 we will be introducing the results of the project into our pricing.

We continue to talk regularly and constructively with all the stakeholders in this issue. However, it should be borne in mind that ultimate responsibility for protecting the population from flooding rests with the government and the EA. What insurers need to do is provide valuable and constructive input into the planning process and into the introduction and improvement of flood defences.

We are fully aware of what's happening in Scotland - in fact we have talked at length to the Scottish Executive and Scottish Environment Protection Agency and have taken much of what we have learnt to the EA and Westminster.

Increasingly, flooding from urban drains is becoming an issue and the Scottish system, where drain maintenance is a statutory requirement for local authorities, would be welcomed in England.

However, of immediate concern to the industry is the delayed arrival of information from the EA detailing its current flood defences and its plans for the next few years. If insurers are to meet the terms of the new agreement with the government then this information needs to be delivered as soon as possible - more importantly it also needs to be accurate.

Clive Bolton
Director of pricing
Norwich Union Insurance