Global warming blamed for surge which hit Scarborough

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David Cameron has admitted climate change may be to blame for the flooding and storms which have blighted Britain, as insurers prepare to pay out hundreds of millions of pounds in compensation for the disruption caused by the extreme weather.

NFU Mutual, which insures over 70 per cent of UK farmers and thousands of rural homes and businesses, estimates claims from Yorkshire are expected to cost the firm around £3.8m.

Last week, it was dealing with more than 4,000 claims nationwide relating directly to the recent fierce weather conditions and, in total, its claims bill is forecast to exceed £40m.

Gusts topping 60mph have damaged properties and flooding has caused disruption to businesses in affected areas.

A tidal surge which hit the East Yorkshire coast before Christmas inundated farmland, and the flood water and subsequent power cuts forced businesses to close, including in Scarborough, Whitby and Hull.

Mr Cameron was responding to a question from Liberal Democrat president Tim Farron in the Commons on Wednesday last week, when he made the remarks.

He said: “Colleagues across the House can argue about whether that is linked to climate change or not.

“I very much suspect that it is.

According to NFU Mutual, claims from Yorkshire account for around 9.5 per cent of its claims bill from the bad weather. Around a third were received from people in the South East and South West - the worst hit areas of the country in the latest storms.

Tim Price, the insurer’s rural affairs spokesman, said: “The majority of claims we are dealing with are for storm damage - typically to the roofs of homes and farm buildings.

“The first priority for our local staff, regional claims teams and supplier partners is to help our members.

“That means arranging alternative accommodation, making emergency payments to people who have had to leave their homes in a hurry, drying-out flooded properties and helping businesses get up and running quickly.”