As local governments strive to address the housing shortfall, more than 5,000 new houses in flood-prone parts of England have been granted planning approval so far this year.
Researchers looked at over 16,000 planning applications from January to September. They found that roughly 200 were accepted, totaling 5,283 new dwellings, in locations where more than 10% of homes were already in danger of flooding.
Insurers vs Builders
Insurers expressed worry about the number of homes being developed in which the owners may face "traumatic and tragic losses."
On the other hand, builders claimed that the demand for new homes meant that flood-prone regions would have to be utilized - and that, as the climate crisis exposes more properties, more defenses and mitigation measures would have to be implemented.
"While we welcome the government's commitment to increase housing, we have concerns about the UK's resilience to future flood events, especially the number of new housing developments in flood-risk areas that are still receiving approval," said Martin Milliner, claims director at LV= General Insurance, which commissioned the report.
"Flooding is a horrific experience that has a profound physical and mental impact on a person's life."
"We are facing an emergency housing crisis," said Andrew Whitaker, the Home Builders Federation planning director. Development is already steered away from flood-prone locations under current planning policies.
"Where there is no other option, or where sites in high flood risk zones are the most sustainable for other reasons, projects must fulfill rigorous mitigation standards."
David Renard, the housing and environment spokesperson for the Local Government Association, stated that nearly 99 percent of applications were approved based on the Environment Agency's flood risk recommendations.
"Funding for flood defenses should be delegated to local communities to ensure that money is channeled to projects that best represent local requirements," he said. The government should also make necessary anti-flood features in building rules for new dwellings."
Greenpeace discovered last year that one-third of England's most critical flood defenses were in private ownership, with over 1,000 of them in bad shape.
According to Environment Agency projections, more than 5 million households and businesses in England are in danger of flooding.
The government announced a £5.2 billion investment in flood and coastal defenses in England, which will safeguard over 336,000 homes.
"Our national planning policy is clear that floodplain development should be avoided whenever feasible and that protections must be put in place when it is necessary to build in these areas - we expect local planning authorities to follow this direction," a spokeswoman said.
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