New Met Office stats reveal Britain experienced an unusually wet 2023

The Met Office recently revealed how rainfall was up 11 per cent compared with the average, while March, July and October were the sixth-wettest on record.

And that damp weather saw Highways England having to work overtime to repair drains and fix urgent issues to get traffic moving again, according to new stats revealed via a Freedom of Information Request (FOI) made by vehicle leasing firm Select Van Leasing.

Highways England operates and maintains England’s Strategic Road Network (SRN), which comprises 4,500 miles of motorways and major A roads.

And in 2023, some 2,037 flooding and drainage-related defects were logged on Highways England’s centralised ‘CONFIRM’ system, which logs details of any repairs needed.

Many of the incidents refer to flooding on slip lanes and hard shoulders, as well as on the roads themselves.

The flooding figures represent a 36 per cent jump on 2022’s log of 1,493 issues – while incidents have more than doubled since 2021’s log of 985 defects.

Number of drainage or flooding issues on England’s Strategic Road Network, as reported on the Highways England ‘CONFIRM’ central system, by year:

  • 2021 – 985
  • 2022 – 1,493
  • 2023 – 2,037

Graham Conway, director at Select Van Leasing, says:

“Highways England has its work cut out for it when it comes to dealing with incidents of flooding, and our report illustrates just what the agency is up against.

“Last year was exceptionally wet, with major flooding incidents in areas like Nottinghamshire, and with storms like Babet and Ciaran wreaking havoc.

“And with climate change creating warmer and wetter weather in general, flooding on England’s major roads is something we’ll all be combating for the foreseeable future.”

The Met Office describes how a warmer atmosphere has a greater capacity to hold moisture, so as our climate warms, they ‘expect it to become wetter, too’.

When a report is made to Highways England about a flooding or drainage issue, it’s logged on the agency’s Customer Contact Centre (CCC).

The appropriate team is notified, before necessary repairs to defects are logged on the ‘CONFIRM’ asset management system, along with a target date for repair.

The CONFIRM system splits the data into six regions – North West, Yorkshire North East, East, Midlands, South West, South East.

And the majority of regions reported having to deal with an increase in required fixes between 2022 and 2023.



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