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Floods - Are We Ready for the Future?: Tonight

Floods - Are We Ready for the Future?: Tonight, ITV at 7.30pm Photo: ITV / Tonight

This winter has seen some of the worst flooding in living memory, particularly in the North. With predictions of more rain sodden winters to come, Tonight tells some of the untold stories from this winter’s storms and examines how Britain might have to radically change to adapt to a far wetter future.

Tonight reporter and ITV weatherman Alex Beresford discovers what’s happening to our weather and finds out how we can protect ourselves and our homes in the event of a flood. We travel to the Calder Valley in West Yorkshire and meet people whose lives have been devastated by the floods.

It’s shocking and I was expecting to feel shocked and I felt horrified that my life had dropped through the floor of my house.”

– David Nixon
David Nixon's house after the flood Credit: ITV / Tonight

But Tonight can exclusively reveal new research which suggests that global warming could be to blame for December’s weather.

We look at what’s happening to our weather and ask if severe storms will become the norm in winter. Heavy rainfall and unusually warm temperatures in December have been blamed on a natural climatic event in the Pacific called El Nino but new research conducted by the climate dynamics research group at the University of Oxford suggests otherwise. They discovered that the chance of this December’s freak weather being a result of climate change is the same as El Nino.

What we’ve seen is the warmest December on record and what’s interesting is that we’ve broke the record by 2 degrees - this is the consequences of one degree of warming that’s caused by human influence on climate in the last century. What’s interesting is that even at the scale of the UK in a single month, the largest natural climate fluctuation in existence - that’s the El Nino phenomenon in the Pacific - is being overtaken by climate change.”

– Myles Allen – Professor, Geosystem Science, Oxford University

The programme also looks at how much the Environment Agency spends on flood defences in the North versus the South.

Is there a North-South divide in flood defence spending by the Environment Agency? Credit: ITV / Tonight

Tonight examined Environment Agency budgets for flood defence projects in the pipeline on the basis of a North-South line drawn by an Oxford University academic. This line runs from the Bristol Channel to the Wash. We found £2.7bn is projected to be spent on flood defences in the South compared to the £600m spent in the North.

But in a statement the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs told us:

“We do not recognise the North /South divide line drawn up in this research….. The Government spends money on flood defences and flood recovery where it is most needed, whether that’s north, south, east or west.”

The programme offers advice on how to plan for flooding:

Mary Dhonau, Independent Flood consultant, advises “everyone should have a waterproof grab bag in their home which they can take with them if their house should ever flood.” For more information about your emergency bag and how to protect your home click here.

If you have been flooded there is a not-for-profit flood reinsurance fund called FloodRe owned and managed by the insurance industry, and established to ensure that those domestic properties in the UK at the highest risk of flooding can receive affordable cover for the flood element of their household property insurance.

Help and support - useful links

The Floodline Service on 0345 988 1188 helps people affected by the recent floods. Before calling, please read our guidance for households and businesses or farmers.

The National Flood Forum is a national charity dedicated to supporting and representing communities and individuals at risk of flooding