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Project Puts Thousands of homes at Risk of Flooding

The results of a recent investigation warn that thousands of new homes could be uninsurable due to their considerable flood risk. Because nearly half the areas allocated for a government development scheme worth £200m are at risk of flooding, insurance companies may refuse to cover them.

Greenpeace states that local councils have scheduled the development of nearly 9,000 new residences on land that the Environment Agency has assessed as being at risk of flooding.

The organisation also found that nine out of the 20 schemes risked being flooded by waters from the sea or a nearby river. Out of this nine, six locations were partially in high risk zones, meaning that they have at least a one in 100 annual chance of river flooding or one in 200 chance of sea flooding. The Government advised councils to present any proposals to the Environment Agency for comment, but there is no actual obligation to accept the agency’s recommendations.

Hinkley, outside Bridgewater, has around 1,000 homes planned for development. Last winter, villages on the nearby Somerset Levels were totally cut off for more than two months. Following this incident, Sedgemoor district council paid over £280,000 in council tax relief and grants, but has still plotted out a development in a known flood plain.

During its application for funds, the council conducted tests to assess how flooding affected the area. After reviewing the results, it agreed to build new defence measures against flooding by 2035.

Poole borough council has estimated that areas in Hamworthy, Dorset, will be flooded by up to four metres of water within 125 years. The Government also accepted plans to build on a high-risk site once occupied by a power station.

Now the scheme is in disarray, after the sudden withdrawal of an application to construct 1,350 homes. It was replaced by a different one involving 1100 residences, with this plan excluding the former power station site.

The Government has also supported plans made by the Wakefield Metropolitan district council to build 1,200 new properties near the Aire River. Other schemes that entail a flood risk include Surrey’s Slyfield Area Regeneration Project.

Structural Defects Insurance

The House of Lords committee dedicated to the built sector recently listened to evidence from campaign groups and experts on the subject of developing known flood plains.

Buyers who do acquire one of the new homes will not be able to protect their investment under the Floor Re, the UK Government’s flood insurance programme, which is set to take effect in April 2016. The scheme sets a cap on insurance costs for properties in high-risk areas, but is limited to homes built prior to 2009.

Dr Doug Parr, chief scientist for Greenpeace in the UK, warned that hurrying to build scores of new homes in flood zones is a disaster waiting to happen, in light of the fact that the number of flood protection staff has been reduced.

A Government spokesperson confirmed that flood risks are taken very seriously and £2.3bn is being invested in flood defences over the next six years.

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