‘Insurance ban for flood-risk homes’

2 12 2007

The risk of flooding to homes and businesses in the UK is increasing and climate change is likely to lead to an increase in river, sea and drainage flooding. In a bid to limit the flood damage to housing, the chief executive of the Environment Agency, Baroness Young, has suggested that homes built on flood plains against official advice should be refused insurance. Last year 13 ‘major developments’, including housing estates and a holiday park, were given planning permission despite being categorised as a flood risk area. This proposal would also affect government plans for 3 million new homes, up to one third of which, experts say, could be built on flood plains. In a televised interview, expert Barbara Young called on insurers to help protect properties against flooding – ‘We’d like the insurance companies to be tougher and to simply refuse to insure properties built on the flood plain against our advice.’

Dispatches revealed a leaked document from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs in which officials admitted in June 2006 that flood defences were ‘severely rationed’ or turned down. The programme also found that since 2004 there have been six other major safety incidents at dams in Britain and 40 other dams have been threatened with prosecution over safety issues. The programme claims that 2,500 families affected by this summer’s floods are still living in temporary accommodation because of delays in getting insurance and repair works completed. The Association of British Insurers told Dispatches: ‘When dealing with such a huge number of claims some problems may arise. Insurers try to resolve these as quickly as possible. The industry has pledged to continue to offer flood insurance to all existing customers, providing there are adequate flood defences in place. For new customers individual insurers will decide if they are able to offer flood cover.’

Source: http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2007/dec/02/climatechange.householdbills?gusrc=rss (2/12/07)





‘Flood report blames water company’

22 11 2007

A report commissioned by Hull City Council has blamed Yorkshire Water for the severity of the summer floods in 2007. The report claims that the water company ignored warnings from as early as 1996 and failed to correct technical issues, leading to the failure of Hull’s drainage system and the subsequent flooding of more than 8,600 homes, 1,300 businesses and 90 across Hull. The inability of the pump to remove water meant that more homes suffered more extensive and prolonged flooding and thus more severe damage. If action had been taken years ago then the June 2007 floods may not have caused so much devastation. Yorkshire Water responded by saying that no drainage system could have coped with the waters and that “The issue is not about building bigger pumps, but of the capacity of the drains and the sewers to cope with the intensity and concentration of the rainfall in these extreme weather events”.

The report predicts future flooding problems in the area, saying that “Until a permanent solution is built, Hull is served by an under-capacity, sub-standard system helped out by two 40-year-old pumping stations.” The report recommends that the pumping station should be modernised and its capacity increased, and although Yorkshire Water plans to invest in and improve the infrastructure, for many this is too little too later. Yorkshire Water is also accused of ‘repeatedly overestimating the capacity of its equipment to deal with heavy rain’ contributing to thousands of pounds worth of damage to properties thought to be safe from flooding. The company are said to be disappointed that the report focused on their problems rather than promoting co-operation in overcoming climate change and the flooding risk it poses to Hull.

Flooding in Hull - June 2007

Source: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/humber/7104996.stm (November 21st 07)





‘Tidal surge sweeps past east coast of England – and surfers catch a wave’

18 11 2007

The biggest tidal surge in over 50 years threatened the coastline of East Anglia, along the east coast of England, leading to severe flood risks. Up to 7500 people were evacuated from their homes after the Environment Agency gave warning of “extreme danger to life and property” in coastal areas of Norfolk and Suffolk. Water levels reached their highest, 2.75m, between 7am and 8am, although the prediction had estimated a peak of 30cm higher. There were no injuries or deaths, unlike a similar event in 1953 in which 300 people died. There wasn’t even any flooding to properties reported. However, hundreds faced upheaval and uncertainty, and the temporary housing in local schools and other public buildings left many with inadequate shelter and food. Many schools were closed for the day and roads and rail links were shut. Officials said there had been no reports of flood defences being broken although there had been some flooding of coastal roads because of the height of the waves.

‘Temporary flood barriers were fitted during the night around an electricity substation in Great Yarmouth to protect power supplies’ and the Dartford Creek and Thames barriers were closed to prevent widespread flooding. Gordon Brown said the Government was standing ready to help any local communities affected by the tidal surge – “Our first priority is to ensure people are safe, and that’s why over the course of yesterday and throughout the night we have been bringing in the helicopters, the sandbags, the preparations that are absolutely necessary so that people are safe”.

Related linksQ&A: flood insurance Towns kept dry by flood defences and luck

Thousands evacuate ahead of storm surge

Pictures: UK floods

Source: http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/article2839078.ece (November 2007)





‘Tidal surge sweeps past east coast of England’

14 11 2007

The biggest tidal surge in over 50 years threatened the coastline of East Anglia, along the east coast of England, leading to severe flood risks. Up to 7500 people were evacuated from their homes after the Environment Agency gave warning of “extreme danger to life and property” in coastal areas of Norfolk and Suffolk. Water levels reached their highest, 2.75m, between 7am and 8am, although the prediction had estimated a peak of 30cm higher. There were no injuries or deaths, unlike a similar event in 1953 in which 300 people died. There wasn’t even any flooding to properties reported and some people even took advantage of the wave and spent the day surfing. However, hundreds faced upheaval and uncertainty, and the temporary housing in local schools and other public buildings left many with inadequate shelter and food. Many schools were closed for the day and roads and rail links were shut. Officials said there had been no reports of flood defences being broken although there had been some flooding of coastal roads because of the height of the waves.

‘Temporary flood barriers were fitted during the night around an electricity substation in Great Yarmouth to protect power supplies’ and the Dartford Creek and Thames barriers were closed to prevent widespread flooding. Gordon Brown said the Government was standing ready to help any local communities affected by the tidal surge – “Our first priority is to ensure people are safe, and that’s why over the course of yesterday and throughout the night we have been bringing in the helicopters, the sandbags, the preparations that are absolutely necessary so that people are safe”.

Related links

Q&A: flood insurance

Thousands evacuate ahead of storm surge

Pictures: UK floods

Source: http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/article2839078.ece (November 9, 2007)