EVEN though Britain’s housing crisis is being exacerbated by a shortage of land available for development, it does not excuse those local authorities which have defied – and continue to ignore – the expert advice of the Environment Agency and allowed new homes to be built on flood-risk land.
According to newly-released figures from the EA, the body responsible for flood defences and preventative measures, more than 1,200 residential properties have been given the green light in the past five years on land deemed to be unsuitable for such use.
A false economy if the properties in question are then subjected to the scale of damage and destruction witnessed across Yorkshire last winter, the question for Ministers now is whether this body should continue to have an advisory role – or a formal right of veto.
Unless more credence is given to flood plains, which exist to protect downstream towns and villages from being flooded, and issues like surface water drainage, before proposed schemes are given the go-ahead, future homes will be at risk from rapidly rising water.
The Government’s flood defence budget remains woefully inadequate, and his short-sightedness is only intensifying the pressure on the EA’s scarce financial resources. All new developments need to be flood-proofed from the outset – simply hoping for the best is not a water-tight policy.