116. The Agency maps river and coastal flood risk
and provides this service to the public for free, via its website.
The Agency says this information is regularly updated and shared
with local authorities and the insurance industry to assist in
planning and insurance provision.
Some insurance companies, such as Norwich Union and Royal &
Sun Alliance, have developed their own more detailed mapping systems,
in part based on the Agency's data, to aid insurance provision.
Both companies' maps are able to assign flood risk to the level
of individual property, whereas the Agency's maps split the flood
risk into 100 square metre areas.
117. We believe the variety of different flood risk
maps availablewith each potentially classifying a certain
property at a different level of flood riskis confusing
for the public. We understand
that insurance companies will want to produce their own detailed
flood risk maps for commercial reasons. The current situation,
however, is a recipe for conflict. The Government should set out
its policy on how it intends to resolve this potential confusion.
The necessity for clarity is even more
pressing with the Agency's development of simple surface water
flood maps for some "hot-spot" areas. We
recognise the production of flood maps is a dynamic process and
is dependent on the best data available, but it is in everyone's
interest to have the best available validated map. The Environment
Agency should take the lead in pulling partners together to achieve
this. The Agency should set up a standing committee that annually
reviews all the available data on flood mapping, so insurance
companies and the Met Office can share experience, and this committee
should publish an annual report about the dynamics of the process.