Thursday, July 14, 2011

Flood risk to new homes in the UK being ignored

Fiona Harvey in the Guardian (UK): Local authorities are continuing to allow tens of thousands of houses to be built on floodplains, despite a growing risk of flooding as climate change takes hold, according to a report from the government's climate adviser.

The report, from a sub-unit of the Committee on Climate Change, also found a marked increase in the risk of drought across the country. At present, only 8% of key water "resource zones" – catchment areas for water – are in danger of a shortfall in supplies, even in a severe drought. Within 15 years, that number is likely to be about 45% if nothing is done, meaning millions of people could be affected.

Lord Krebs, chair of the adaptation sub-committee, called on the government to take action urgently to head off much greater problems with drought and flooding. These could include tougher building regulations so that all houses were equipped with water-saving devices, including water meters, and those at risk of flood with preventive measures, ranging from sealed airbricks to raised floors and flood-resistant paint.

He said: "By taking steps to manage this vulnerability, local communities, businesses and households can save money today and reduce the costs of climate change in the future."

At present, the UK is coping with these problems, but the committee warned that in key areas of infrastructure, such as water supply and flood protection, the country was "near its limits ... and could be pushed over the edge by climate change". Government cuts earlier this year reduced the number of flood defence projects by a thousand. Krebs said he was surprised at how many houses are still built on floodplains around the UK – around 12,000 to 16,000 every year in England alone....

House in floods, Loddon Bridge Road, Woodley Shot by Andrew Smith, Wikimedia Commons via Geograph UK, under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license

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