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Ban on flood plain developments
As the Environment Secretary warns that climate change is heightening the threat of deluges destroying homes and developers are to be barred from building on land at risk of flooding.
As part of a package of measures to better protect households, business premises, and infrastructure the Government is to set out plans to invest £860 million in 1,000 flood defence schemes this year. Additionally, improvements to flood insurance will also be announced to encourage the installation of flood doors, air brick covers, and flood-resistant paint in homes previously damaged by water.
The measures come amid growing fears in Whitehall about climate change and the need for the nation to adapt urgently to the challenges it poses. The Environment Secretary, George Eustice, drew a link between global warming and flooding in an article for a national broadsheet, saying: “Climate changes means more extreme weather, a higher risk of flooding events and coastal erosion. All too often, we are seeing households suffering repeated flooding.”
Pledging to tackle the problem, he stated that new powers will be given to the Housing Secretary to block “inappropriate development” on land threatened by flooding. The reforms are being introduced by the Government after 866 homes were granted planning permission in 2019-20, despite Environment Agency warnings about flood risk.
The Government will hold a consultation this autumn on how to bolster frequently flooded communities, including with more funding, and by next summer better surface water maps will be published in order to hand 3.3 million people more information on local risks.
Last year, the Government announced it would double capital funding for flood and coastal defences for a six-year programme to boost flood alleviation schemes and coastal defences, to help better fortify 336,000 properties. The programme, which runs until 2027, aims to prevent £32 billion in wider economic harm caused by water damage. Funding will be given to projects to improve river walls and embankments; create new wetlands, peatlands and woods; and reduce the flow of rainwater upstream into rivers at risk of flooding. Towns in Greater Manchester, Hebden Bridge in West Yorkshire and Weardale in County Durham are among areas set to benefit. The plan will also outline funding for repairs to the hard sea defences in Lincolnshire.
Mr Eustice says that, in order to “drive up compliance” with flood advice, fresh guidance will be issued forcing local planning authorities to refer decisions to the Housing Secretary in cases where the Environment Agency has raised an objection on those grounds.
Mr Eustice highlighted the “catastrophic flash flooding” seen in Germany, Belgium, India and China in recent weeks. stressing that climate change is a global problem. In London torrential downpours led to severe flash floods, and The Met Office predicts that the stormy weather that has beset much of the country recently will continue. Yellow weather warnings have been issued for rain in north-west England.