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Warning over flood risk homes

PUBLISHED: 05:12 01 February 2003 | UPDATED: 16:13 24 February 2010

LOCAL authorities in some parts of East Anglia are still allowing “inappropriate” development in flood risk areas and putting lives at risk.

The disclosure came yesterday from the Environment Agency as the region commemorated the disastrous floods of 50 years ago.

LOCAL authorities in some parts of East Anglia are still allowing “inappropriate” development in flood risk areas and putting lives at risk.

The disclosure came yesterday from the Environment Agency as the region commemorated the disastrous floods of 50 years ago.

However, the agency declined to name the “bad boys” among the region's district and borough councils.

More than 300 people lost their lives, 24,500 homes were flooded and 30,000 people were evacuated during the night of January 31, 1953.

Sir John Harman, Environment Agency chairman, said yesterday that while much had been done since 1953 to reduce flood risks, development in floodplains continued to be a concern.

“Despite our best advice, some local authorities continue to permit inappropriate development in flood plains. The message from the Environment Agency is that this has to stop. It is putting people's lives at risk,” said Sir John.

He said development in flood risk areas also threatened people's biggest investments – their houses and businesses.

The residents of East Anglia were better protected from floods than ever before but there was no room for complacency. “We can manage the risk better but we can never eliminate it,” Sir John said.

Flooding was still a major concern to the five million people living and working in flood risk areas and it has caused “misery” to hundreds of them already this winter.

Sir John welcomed the Government's commitment to increase funding to provide better protection over the next three years but called for the spending process to be streamlined, so the money could be used quickly and where it was most urgently needed.

However, it was important to remember that in some places no practical flood defence could be built.

“Even the best of flood defences can be overwhelmed in extreme weather. People living in flood plains must understand their own personal risk and make preparations accordingly,” Sir John added.

Simon Barlow, development control team leader for the Environment Agency, said there had been at least 18 cases in Suffolk, Essex and Norfolk last year where agency objections to flood plain development proposals had been over-ruled.

“It would be unfair to single any out when it is sporadic over the whole region.

“We are in discussion with those authorities that have gone against our advice and are trying to build-up our relationships with them,” he said.

david.green@eadt.co.uk


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