Thursday, February 14, 2008

Flood-risk homes 'may be uninsurable'

And so it begins, with the insurance industry in England in the position of bringing the bad news. From the Guardian (UK): Many new homes could be uninsurable and unsellable unless the government introduces tougher planning controls, the insurance industry warned today. The Association of British Insurers (ABI) said a third of the 3m homes set to be built by 2020 could be on a floodplain, and warned its members may not continue to offer flood cover as standard on home insurance policies.

Speaking at the Architects' Journal conference today, Justin Jacobs, the ABI's assistant director of property, said: "The government's ambitious housing plans are in jeopardy unless we reduce the flood risk. "In the last year, 13 major developments have been given the go-ahead despite Environment Agency advice on the flood risk. Where a local authority plans to ignore flood risk advice, the government should step in and review the proposals and be compelled to publish their decision."

Jacobs said insurers wanted to continue to provide flood cover to all homeowners, but he warned that poor planning decisions would create homes that were "unsaleable, uninsurable and uninhabitable". The housing minister, Iain Wright, described the ABI's claims as "completely wide of the mark".

"The government has introduced the strongest planning rules ever to ensure councils properly manage the risk of flooding," he said. "It is up to councils to decide whether to give planning permission for new housing developments, but these rules mean they must consult with the Environment Agency before allowing new building in flood risk areas."

Wright said the government was prepared to use its powers to overturn councils' decisions, but that the 13 developments referred to by Jacobs were all approved before the stronger rules were introduced….

A Pizza Hut restaurant surrounded by flood water in Chesterfield, England, 2007, shot by David Miller from Chesterfield, Wikimedia Commons

No comments: