Assessing the value of intangible benefits of property level flood risk adaptation (PLFRA) measures

Rotimi Joseph, David Proverbs, Jessica Lamond

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Studies in the UK and elsewhere have identified that flooding can result in diverse impacts, ranging from significant financial costs (tangible) to social (intangible) impacts on households. At the same time, it is now clear that large-scale flood defence schemes are not the panacea to flood risk, and there is an increasing responsibility on property owners to protect their own properties. Hence, there is an emerging expectation for homeowners to take action in the form of investing in property level flood risk adaptation (PLFRA) measures to protect their properties. However, hitherto the level of uptake of such measures remains very low. The tangible financial benefits of investing in PLFRA measures are generally well understood and have been demonstrated to be cost beneficial for many properties at risk from frequent flooding. Importantly, these estimates tend to take little account of the value of the intangible benefits of PLFRA measures and therefore may be under estimating their full benefits. There remains a need to develop an improved understanding of these intangible benefits, and this research sets out to bridge this knowledge gap. Based on a synthesis of the literature, the contingent valuation method was selected as a means to value intangible impacts of flooding on households. A questionnaire survey of homeowners affected in the 2007 flooding was employed to elicit willingness to pay (WTP) values to avoid the intangible impacts of flooding on their households. The analysis of the questionnaire survey data revealed that the average WTP per household per year to avoid intangible flood impacts was £653. This therefore represents the value of the intangible benefits of investing in PLFRA measures and is significantly higher than previously estimated. This research builds on previous research in suggesting a higher value to the intangible impacts of flooding on households by assessing wider range of intangible impacts and focusing on more experienced individuals. Furthermore, the research indicates that factors which influence the WTP values were principally stress of flood, worrying about loss of house values, worrying about future flooding and age of respondents, with income showing a weak correlation. The establishment of a new value for the intangible impacts of flooding on households in the UK is helpful in the domain of flood risk management when evaluating the total benefits (tangible and intangible) of investing in flood protection measures, thus providing a robust assessment for decision-making on flood adaptation measures at an individual property level.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1275–1297
Number of pages22
JournalNatural Hazards and Earth System Sciences
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 26 Jul 2015



  • Flood impacts
  • Property level flood risk adaptation measures
  • Willingness to pay
  • Intangible impact
  • Intangible benefits

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