UK tourist attractions at risk of surface water flooding

February 20, 20130 Comments

There is a commonly held misperception regarding the risk of flooding to a specific location. Many people believe that a building must sit close to a river or the sea for it to be at any risk. Whilst fluvial (river) and tidal flood events undoubtedly cause much damage to homes and buildings across the UK, pluvial events – also known as surface water floods – are thought to affect up to 2.8 million homes according to DEFRA (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs). This is twice the number of properties at risk from river or tidal floods.

For those unfamiliar with flood types, surface water flooding occurs when heavy rainfall saturates drainage systems and the excess water cannot be absorbed. It can potentially affect any building, at any elevation. We covered a dramatic example of this in October 2012, when surface water floods washed away an entire wall of a house in Fife.
To further highlight the risk posed by surface water flooding, we used our proprietary Flowroute™ flood modelling technology to run an analysis on ten UK-based tourist attractions that do not sit close to river or tidal floodplains. The data, featured below, is taken directly from our internal flood reports.

Alton Towers Theme Park

First up is Alton Towers in Staffordshire. The flood map below shows surface water accumulation areas, indicated by the red dots, across the theme park complex.

There have been reports in the recent past of flooding at Alton Towers, including this one here. However, our data indicates that flooding hotspots in the park include the area just north of the Hospitality Suite (indicated by the red circle in the flood map above), the Mutiny Bay area and parts of the X Sector in the south. The chart below shows that the area of the park circled has a 1 in 75 year flood event frequency, according to our own data.

Brands Hatch

Next up is Brands Hatch in Kent. The site has flooded in the past following heavy rainfall, as shown in this video here. The flood map below shows the surface water accumulation areas for the site, as modeled by our Flowroute™ technology.

The chart below confirms that the site is only at a high risk of surface water flooding, with no significant risk posed by rivers or the sea.

The Eden Project

Dramatic surface water flooding caused significant damage to the Eden Project in 2010, causing the attraction to close down for 7 days. The impact of the heavy rainfall can be viewed in this video here. Again, our flood map below shows surface water accumulation areas around the site.

The chart below shows the flood sources posing a risk to the site. Again, river or tidal events are not identified as likely.

Glastonbury Music Festival

The Glastonbury Music Festival in Somerset is possibly world famous for its multiple flood events over the years, with images of revellers knee deep in mud and water regularly making it onto the front pages of newspapers. This short video shows the carnage caused to a tent field in 2005. Our flood map below shows the surface water accumulation areas south of Worthy Lane, where the festival is held.

Although the Glastonbury site itself is not on a river floodplain, it does sit within 250 metres of one. As such, the chart below indicates nearby fluvial flood risk. However, only surface water flooding is identified as an on-site risk.

Manchester Piccadilly Station

One of the UK’s busiest railway stations, with over 28.5 million passengers managed annually, the site itself is also at a significant risk of surface water flooding as shown in the flood map below. In fact, floods caused disruption to commuters back in November 2012 as confirmed by this report here.

The chart below confirms that surface water flooding is the only major source of risk posed.

Milton Keynes Shopping Centre

The main shopping centre in Milton Keynes attracts shoppers from across the country and has flooded on numerous occasions, as shown in this video, posted back in August 2012. Our flood map below shows the areas of the site most likely to be affected by surface water flooding.

Again, the chart below shows that Milton Keynes Shopping Centre is not under any significant threat from rivers or tidal flood events.

Arsenal Football Ground

The Emirates stadium in London, the relatively new home of Arsenal football club, was completed back in 2006. Whilst there have been no recent reports of flood events at the stadium, the site is at a significant risk of surface water flooding, as indicated by the flood map below:

The flood sources chart confirms that the only significant risk posed is by surface water:

Chessington World of Adventures

Whilst there have been no recent reports of flooding at Chessington World of Adventures, our data suggests that there are certain areas of the park at a high risk. The flood map below shows the surface water accumulation areas:

Chessington is not at any significant risk of river or tidal flood events, according to both our own and Environment Agency data pictured below.

Wimbledon All England Lawn Tennis Club

Wimbledon is another tourist attraction and sports event renowned for frequent downpours of heavy rain, hindering matches. Centre Court may well be protected now by a retractable roof and the rest of the site by other flood protection measures, however, our flood maps below show the areas of the site at risk from surface water floods.

Our report chart below confirms that surface water is the only major source of flood risk affecting the site.

Buckingham Palace

Finally, and possibly one of the most famous tourist attractions in the UK, is Buckingham Palace. Surface water floods have affected the Palace in the recent past. This article in The Guardian documents storms drenching a royal garden party. Our flood maps show the surface water accumulation areas in and around the Palace.

Summary

These are just ten examples of locations across the UK that have been affected by surface water flood events in the past or are identified as prone to suffer them in the future.

Filed in: Flood modelling

About the Author ()

James Hubbard is part of Ambiental's technical team and takes responsibility for managing the company website.

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