Council planners ‘still approving flood risk developments’

Town halls gave the green light to 16 major developments in flood risk areas against Environment Agency advice in the past year, according to a new report from the agency.

The annual report shows that 96% of local authority planning decisions followed the advice of the Environment Agency when it objected on grounds of flood risk in 2007-08.

But sixteen developments, including nearly 250 homes, a primary school and a ferry terminal, were approved by planners – up from 13 in 2006-07.

The report was published on the same day that gales and heavy rain swept the UK, causing floods in many parts of the south.

Development and Flood Risk 2007-08 shows the agency lodged objections to 6,200 planning applications on the grounds of flood risk in 2007-08.

This was a massive increased from 2006-07, when it only objected to 4,750 applications.

The agency warned that millions of people are already at risk from flooding, the number of homes at risk is set to rise in the future as a result of climate change, and it could be harder for residents to get insurance in flood-risk properties.

Paul Leinster, chief executive of the Environment Agency said: “We’re pleased that most councils take our flood risk advice in relation to planning decisions, but are concerned that a minority of decisions go against our advice.”

Responding to the report, Nick Starling, the Association of British Insurer’s director of general insurance and health, said: “This highlights the importance of developers and planners following the ABI’s recently published guidance on insurance for new developments.

“Building on floodplains should be avoided, but if it has to take place then developers must ensure that properties incorporate measures to reduce and manage the flood risk.

“Without proper measures to reduce flood risk, these properties will be uninsurable, unsellable and uninhabitable.”

The agency has also announced how £700m of funding will be allocated to help reduce flood risk across England.

More than £3m will be spent on St Germans pumping station in Norfolk, £4.7m will be used for defences along the Thames, and £3.4m will go on upgrading the Hull Tidal Surge Barrier.

Kate Martin

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