Thousands of new homes could be built in high-risk flood areas, campaign group says
An investigation by campaign group Greenpeace has discovered that 10,000 new homes could be built in areas which are at high-risk of flooding.
Some of these include new-builds in the South Yorkshire areas of Sheffield and Doncaster, which have been severely affected by recent floods.
While the Environment Agency has reassured the BBC that almost all planning applications in 2018 adhered to its flood risk advice, it said that risks will increase in line with climate change.
It claimed that 99.4 per cent of planning applications between 2017 and 2018 involving new homes were decided in accordance with its advice on flood risk, although this figure has been disputed by the Local Government Association.
The Environment Agency added that local planning authorities ultimately had the final say on approving proposals for new developments in their regions, be they in high-risk zones or otherwise.
Greenpeace’s leading scientist, Doug Parr, said that local authorities were “literally planning for disaster”.
Parr said: “Flooding has been flashing on the radar as one of the major impacts of the climate emergency in the UK for years, yet our planning system keeps failing to properly recognise it.”
The Greenpeace investigation uncovered plans for 9,688 new homes to be built in flood prone zones, including 5,000 across vulnerable areas of Lincolnshire.
These properties have not yet been granted full planning permission but have been identified as potential areas for development by local authorities.
The Greenpeace study looked into the ten English council authorities with the highest volume of land covered by high-risk areas, as defined by the Environment Agency, cross-referenced with sites that these councils had included in their five-year plans for housing provision.
The group also found that thousands of homes have been planned for construction in medium-risk areas along with hundreds of new builds in the high-risk zones, defined as having a one in 100 chance of flooding within a year.
The Environment Agency said that in some cases, avoiding high and medium-risk zones when planning for new builds can be “challenging” due to “limited land outside the flood plain”, as well as having to adhere to the restrictions of “other sustainable development objectives”.