Local Authorities approve building of new homes on flood plains

Against expert advice and clear objections from the Environment Agency, local authorities across the country are giving developers planning permission to build new homes on flood plains. In England alone, around 197 developments have been approved on flood plains since 2002 against the advice of the Environment Agency.  Around 200,000 homes built on flood plains in the UK, with 38,000 new homes having been built are in areas regarded as high-risk – in other words likely to be flooded.

Flood PlainsEven if new homes being built on flood plains are raised above anticipated flood levels, the floodwater will just be channelled elsewhere, perhaps to areas that would have otherwise escaped flooding.

Dan Rogerson the government’s Environment Minister said on the ITV news recently: “National policy guidance is absolutely clear. We shouldn’t be building on flood plains except in circumstances which are very well defined………Local authorities are the right people to decide them, they’re elected locally and they will make the decisions about what’s built.”

The ITV programme also found that despite warnings, councils across the country have allowed building on flood plains. Their research showed that building has gone ahead despite objections from the Environment Agency and experts say it will devastate the value of some properties. Insurance is now a critical concern for those living in areas at high risk from flooding.

The insurance industry’s trade body the ABI, confirmed that anyone unfortunate enough to have bought a new home built on a flood plain since 2009, will not be included in a new scheme known as ‘Flood Re’. This is designed to give affordable insurance to those in the high risk and the worst hit areas. Any new homes built in high-risk areas since 2009 will be uninsurable and virtually impossible to sell.

Anyone buying a new home should be able to be confident that, having gone through a rigorous, and if the builders are to be believed; an onerous, complex and time-consuming planning process, building on land at high risk of flooding would be prevented. It would appear that the current system cannot offer any such reassurance for new homebuyers. It is therefore essential that ALL new homebuyers check developments for risk of flooding  before they even visit a new development.

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