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Government urged to tighten planning system to minimise flood impacts

A campaign group has called on the government to tighten up the UK’s planning system in order to reduce flood impacts.

According to Friends of the Earth, developers are seeking to build homes on flood plains against the advice of experts such as the Environment Agency, following the recent relaxation of planning restrictions.

Guy Shrubsole, a campaigner at the group, has therefore called on ministers to address this problem.

Speaking to the Telegraph, he commented: “Thousands of people are living under the threat of devastating flooding because they live in homes that should never have been built.”

Mr Shrubsole warned that the UK’s flood risk is currently growing as a result of climate change. This, he stated, means that allowing homes to be constructed in vulnerable locations is “extremely reckless”.

He acknowledged that the government’s announcement of new flood defence spending is a “step forward”, but said it should be “only the start”.

Similar concerns have been raised by the Association of British Insurers, which stated that building homes in vulnerable areas will push up premiums for occupants.

Spokesman Malcolm Tarling commented: “A new property in an area that floods with no defences is basically a disaster waiting to happen.”

Buyers were reminded that they are responsible for finding out whether they will be able to get adequate insurance on a property.

Mr Tarling went on to stress that while the government wants more houses to be created, there must be a limit on where they are built, with the flood risk and insurance considerations being taken into account.

Mary Creagh, the shadow environment minister, added that 560 homes were built in flood risk areas during 2012.

This, she said, raises “serious questions” about the changes to the planning regulations and how the government is managing the risk of flooding in the UK, along with the flood impacts.

According to the Environment Agency, more than five million people in England and Wales either live or work in buildings that are susceptible to flooding.

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