Sunday, February 12, 2012

Revealed: how Scots are subsidising housing in English flood plains

Rob Edwards in Herald Scotland: Scottish householders are paying for property development in the southeast of England by contributing to a £200 million-a-year "stealth subsidy" for insuring buildings in areas at high risk of flooding. To keep insurance costs down for thousands of homeowners on English flood plains, owners in Scotland are being charged higher premiums, according to a leading flood insurance expert, David Crichton. And the costs for some are likely to rocket next year, he warns.

As many as 23% of homes in England are at risk of flooding, compared to under five per cent in Scotland. Because of pressures on space, more than one in 10 new properties in England are still being built in flood-risk areas – something that hasn't happened in Scotland and Wales for years.

But because the insurance industry has promised that it will provide affordable flood insurance for every UK home and small business, those in low-risk parts of Scotland are being made to pay more to subsidise those in high-risk areas. This is a "stealth subsidy" which is unfair to Scotland, Crichton told the Sunday Herald.

"At present there is a subsidy of over £200m per-year from policyholders in low-risk areas to those in high-risk areas to enable continued flood plain development in the southeast of England," he said. "Scots with their lower flood risk are paying a disproportionate share of this."

Crichton argued that England's efforts to manage flood risks better had been "largely unsuccessful". There were now at least 40 ways in which Scotland's flood risk was lower than the rest of the UK. "Scotland has gone a long way to manage the risk," he said. "The trouble is that most insurers are unaware that there is any difference at all."...

The Ouse Washes at Sutton Gault, an area of seasonally flooding wet grassland (washland) lying between the Old and New Bedford Rivers. These are derived from the River Ouse, a major tributary of East Anglia's Wash. Shot by Richard Humphrey, Wikimeida Commons via Geograph UK, under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license

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