Press release

Businesses urged to check their flood risk

A major food company which was devastated by flooding is calling on other businesses to take action to prepare for severe weather.

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Greencore is urging businesses to make sure they know their flood risk as the Environment Agency launches its annual Flood Action campaign,

Greencore employs more than 11,000 people and supplies all the major supermarket chains in the UK. The company was hit by flooding in October 2000, when more than a metre of water flowed through its Selby factory, resulting in damage which led to a multi-million pound insurance claim. The company also had to relocate the majority of its workforce to Manchester in order to continue production.

Since this flooding occurred, new flood defences have been completed as part of a £17.8 million scheme which now protects an additional 2,500 properties. Greencore has worked closely with the Environment Agency to put in place a business continuity plan and they are also signed up to receive flood alerts if river levels near the factory rise.

David Murtagh, Divisional Environment Manager, Greencore said:

“The lessons that we learned from the severe weather of October 2000 were to have a more robust business continuity plan and to work more closely with the Environment Agency to access crucial information when flooding occurs.”

There are around 260,000 business units employing 3.2 million people located in flood risk areas and flooding is set to become more common as the climate changes. A recent survey carried out by the Federation of Small Businesses revealed that two thirds of small businesses had been affected by severe weather such as flooding in the past 3 years. 75% of businesses surveyed did not have a plan in place to deal with these incidents.

The Environment Agency’s Climate Ready Support Service is calling for organisations to limit the disruption that might be caused to their businesses.

Charlie Corbishley, Climate Ready Manager at the Environment Agency, said:

“All businesses would benefit from having a business continuity plan in place which includes severe weather. If your business is resilient to a changing climate it will be more attractive to investors. The Climate Ready Support Service is supporting businesses to identify their risks and take action to manage them.”

In 2013-14, the wettest winter on record saw 3,200 commercial properties flooded and 7,700 homes flooded. The costs to businesses are still being counted from these floods but is estimated to run into tens of thousands of pounds for each business flooded.

There are simple steps you can take to help protect your business from flooding and to get ready for a changing climate.

A video from the Environment Agency featuring Greencore, explains the importance of businesses becoming more resilient to the more severe weather, such as flooding, droughts and heatwaves.

The Flood Action campaign runs until 13 November and will involve a range of media and social media activity alongside partnership work and community engagement. The Environment Agency is encouraging people to sign up to free flood warnings and alert friends and family on social media using the hashtag #floodaware. Visit Twitter and Facebook to get involved.

Published 5 November 2015