Developers are planning tens of thousands of new homes in areas at high risk of flooding, it can be revealed.
Thousands of homes planned for flood plains; Analysis by The Sunday Telegraph of planning applications that the Environment Agency objected to because of flood risk has revealed developers last year submitted more than 3,000 separate plans to build 27,923 houses in areas prone to flooding. One recently-built estate in Ruthin, north Wales, was left underwater despite residents being given guarantees that their £200,000 homes were safe from all but the worst floods. nearby St Asaph, an elderly woman was found dead in her flooded house after 500 homes were evacuated.Latest figures show planning applications were submitted to build as many as 28,000 homes last year on land that officials consider to be at serious risk of flooding.
The news comes after four people died and more than 1,200 homes across the UK were left seriously damaged in a week of flooding. In the worst-hit areas in Gloucestershire and Wales, many residents had to flee their homes.
Analysis by The Sunday Telegraph of planning applications that the Environment Agency objected to because of flood risk has revealed developers last year submitted more than 3,000 separate plans to build 27,923 houses in areas prone to flooding.
Although it is not clear how many will be approved, in previous years roughly 10 per cent of applications are approved against the Environment Agency’s advice.
Government figures show 9,254 new homes were built in 2010 on flood plains.
One recently-built estate in Ruthin, north Wales, was left underwater despite residents being given guarantees that their £200,000 homes were safe from all but the worst floods.
In nearby St Asaph, an elderly woman was found dead in her flooded house after 500 homes were evacuated as rising water in the River Elwy turned it into a raging torrent.
Work was scheduled to be carried out on embankments and to remove gravel from the Elwy near the Glasdir estate, which was built on a flood plain, and in St Asaph, where the river flooded. The Environment Agency is investigating both incidents.
Campaigners insisted the floods should send a strong message to the Government.
Mary Dhonau, chairman of the Flood Protection Association, said: “It makes me so angry to see homes being built on flood plains – it simply should not happen.
Flooding is the biggest natural threat the UK faces, yet the funding to prevent flooding has been continually eroded while houses are still built in areas where they are at risk.”
There are now thought to be at least 5.2 million houses at risk of sea, river or surface water flooding in the UK.
A spokesman for the Association of British Insurers, which has been negotiating with the Government over how to ensure home owners in high-risk areas can continue to get affordable insurance against flooding, said: “Inappropriate development on flood plains should be avoided wherever possible.”
Ministers announced on Friday an extra £120 million for flood defences. They estimate the money, to be delivered between 2013 and 2015, will improve flood protection for up to 60,000 homes.
The Environment Agency estimates about 165 miles of river defences are inadequate. It maintains a network of more than 6,800 miles of flood defences.
A spokesman said: “The Environment Agency manages flood risk assets on main rivers and the coast which represent 45% of the total number. Local Authorities, Internal Drainage Boards and individual owners are responsible for the remaining defences.”
A spokesman for the Department for Communities and Local Government, said: “Planning guidance for local planning authorities contains strong planning policy on managing risks from all sources of flooding and requires climate change impacts to be taken into account – this is not being relaxed.”