Grants to help flood-proof homes

Development in areas at risk of flooding is unavoidable as housing demand soars, the Government has said as it launched a series of measures to flood-proof high risk buildings.

One in ten houses in England is already located in a high flood risk area and the number is likely to rise as developers run out of space and sea levels rise in a changing climate, ministers said as they announced grants and a guide to help flood-proof buildings.

Planning minister Baroness Andrews said: “There is a clear need for housing and supportive infrastructure across the country and with limited space to do this, it will not always be possible to build away from flood risk areas.

Launching the guide to flood-proofing new buildings this week, she said: “This guide provides essential advice about the way that these necessary buildings in flood risk areas should be constructed. By developing new evidence on the resilience of different types of materials and construction, it offers clear advice to designers and developers on which methods should be employed.”

The Government also wants to help existing households that are vulnerable to flooding retro-fit measures to stop water getting into the building and to reduce damage when it does. A £500,000 pilot scheme launched this week will allocate grants of up to £5,000 per household to cover advice and a part of the measures themselves in areas where risk is highest.

Floor guards, tiled concrete floors replacing carpets, resilient plaster and raised electric installations can alleviate much of the damage that normally follows flooding.

The responsibility for flood-proofing falls primarily on householders, as set out in the Making Space for Water consultation, Ian Pearson told the Association of British Insurers conference on flooding.

“However, with social justice considerations in mind, there could be a role for assistance, probably from local authorities, for particularly vulnerable households,” he said, adding that the first sites are now being identified in cooperation with the Environment Agency.

The flood-proofing measures form part of England’s effort to adapt to climate change. Adaptation is essential “to deal with the expected serious consequences from climate change already in the pipeline,” which will occur regardless of current efforts to combat global warming.

A sea level rise of 40cm brought on by climate change will put an extra 130,000 properties on the East Coast of England in danger of flooding, Ian Pearson said. This would bring the total number of properties at risk of flooding up to 400,000, he said.

Goska Romanowicz

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