Birkbeck, University of London > Business services > Case studies > CASE studentship: the Thames Gateway and flood risk

CASE studentship: the Thames Gateway and flood risk 

Industrial CASE studentships encourage productive engagement between a business, which benefits from a motivated, high-quality PhD student undertaking cutting-edge research relevant to the organisations' priorities and objectives. The studentship provides opportunities to explore novel research collaborations and strengthen current partnerships.

This EPSRC industrial case studentship was the first PhD studentship funded by Willis Research Network, the world’s largest partnership between academia and the insurance industry, involving 24 universities and many professional organisations, researching key risk issues of relevance to the global insurance industry.

The research explores the relationship between flood risk, planning policy, and insurance loss, and aims to understand how flood risk can be quantified with an emphasis on minimising future risk through planning policy.

The focus of the research is on the Thames Gateway, where 160,000 new homes are planned by 2016. More than 90% of the proposed developments are in the floodplain and are subject to many different types of flood risk: tidal, storm surge, river, pluvial, surface runoff, groundwater, and disconnected flooding (primarily runoff through the sewage system and drains), or any combination of these processes.

The scale of the Thames Gateway project and the speed of development, means that the flood risk and the potential for flood losses are greater than anything experienced so far in the UK.

This combination of risk and exposure has caused concern within the insurance and reinsurance industry. Willis Research Network organised a major research meeting on London flood risk attended by members of the Lloyds Syndicate and other representatives of the insurance industry, the Environment Agency, the Greater London Authority and those responsible for Business Continuity Planning / Disaster Recovery as well as Enterprise Risk Management.