Two guides have been published to help North West SMEs make simple changes to improve their resilience to extreme weather and ensure a competitive advantage in adverse conditions.
The guides have been developed by CLASP, a sustainability support service for local authorities.
The guides explore what changes SMEs can expect to see in our climate and what impact these changes may have on their business.
They also provide advice and best practice examples of how businesses can protect themselves from these potential impacts, such as how to prepare in advance for power losses during heavy storms or flooded premises.
The positive business opportunities of taking action are also outlined.
Improving resilience to extreme weather can help businesses to gain a competitive advantage and continue operation in the face of disruption, as shown in a 2016 report commissioned by the Environment Agency.
The benefits and risks are particularly fresh in the memory of many businesses in the North West.
The heavy flooding across Cumbria, Lancashire and Yorkshire in December 2015 was estimated to have caused at least £5 billion worth of damage and left several companies facing an uncertain future.
In Cumbria alone more than 1,000 businesses were flooded, with an average cost per affected business estimated at £54,600. Four months on from the flooding, 12 per cent of affected businesses were still only trading at limited capacity.
More frequent and severe flooding, storms and wind are predicted in the North West in future, as well as hotter summers and drought risks - which could become an issue for water-intensive businesses.
Included in the guides is a simple two-page checklist to assist SMEs with assessing their resilience and identifying what actions to take, encompassing insurance, flood risk, premises, IT, utilities, products and suppliers, and emergency plans.