EA urges flood-proof development

Many developers are still 'putting lives at risk' by building in flood-prone areas, the Environment Agency has said as it released its annual Development and Flood Risk report.

Although overall local planning authorities improved their record in 2005-6, heeding the EA’s advice on flood risk in 95% of cases compared with 92% in 2004-5, they still allowed 10 major developments against advice from the Agency.

“We are very serious about protecting people and homes, and it’s still unacceptable that there were 10 major developments permitted against our advice which could put life and property at risk,” said EA chief executive Barbara Young.

The report coincided with a revision of planning policy that strengthens the role of flood risk considerations in planning for future developments. The new Planning Policy Statement 25 (PPS25) is designed to ensure all planning authorities take account of the EA’s advice on flood-proof planning as well as creating a new ‘Flooding Direction’ that will deal with developments likely to go ahead in high flood-risk areas.

“In the future, we hope the Government’s new Flooding Direction will further reduce major cases going against our advice,” Barbara Young said.

The new policy also factors in the effects of climate change on future flood risk and promotes natural flood defences such as coastal flood plains, green space and sustainable drainage systems.

“The risk of flooding is ever present, and with climate change, increasing. We need to make sure homes – particularly for those whom are vulnerable – are built in a safe place, and that people and the environment are protected,” Barbara Young said.

“Encouragingly, this report shows that local planning authorities are increasingly responding to the Environment Agency’s planning advice and Government planning policy.

“Although we cannot eliminate the risk of flooding, one way to avoid creating a huge problem for the future is to work with Government and local authorities to avoid inappropriate development in areas at risk of flooding and to direct development away from those areas at highest risk. The best means of doing this is to consider the issue as early as possible in the planning process,” she said.

The 2005-6 Development and Flood Risk Report can be accessed here.

Goska Romanowicz

Action inspires action. Stay ahead of the curve with sustainability and energy newsletters from edie