WITH the nights closing in and autumn in full swing, this county has already seen the disruption that bad weather can bring.

The recent heavy rainfall has brought flooding to a number of areas, while the highways department has been criticised for either not clearing routes quickly enough, or for causing disruption as they do so.

In either case, it seems undeniable that the weather has become more unpredictable and more extreme in recent times – with flooding becoming a recurrent and problematic issue.

For the county’s small businesses, flooding causes direct damage along with disruption to staff and customers, supply chains, utilities and transport.

The financial cost is considerable. So too is the emotional cost. Stress, anxiety and uncertainty can undermine business leaders’ ability to run their affairs effectively and efficiently. It also affects consumer behaviour – with some taking their trade elsewhere to avoid any real or perceived inconveniences and threats caused by flooding. It is therefore vitally important that infrastructure is built to withstand current weather patterns and those that we can anticipate in the future.

That is why, in recent years, the FSB has worked with government and played a key role in the development of flood resilience measures. Progress is being made, but more needs to be done.

The risk will never be zero, so small businesses need to be empowered to improve their own resilience through a combination of trusted property-level protection and adequate insurance. Yet our own research suggests up to 75,000 smaller businesses at risk of flooding could currently struggle to find affordable flood insurance.

After successive years of flash floods and associated disruption, it’s become clear that our usually picturesque riverside villages, towns and cities, need protection. Protection in terms of enhanced infrastructure and enhanced insurance cover.