Headlines: July 31st, 2008

Householders whose homes face a particular risk of flooding may be able to benefit from new funds announced by Defra. It has set out a plan to make at least five million pounds available to people whose houses are at a high risk but which are not protected by traditional community level defences.

The money for eligible home owners in England is in addition to any help already provided by local authorities or the insurance industry. Defra has begun consultations and wants views on how best the money can be spent. Possibilities include free home flood surveys or grants covering some of the costs of flood protection measures.

Defra has also published outline proposals for a new National Flood Emergency Framework. In line with recommendations in Sir Michael Pitt’s report into last summer’s floods, the framework would bring together information, guidance and key policies in a single strand of planning to create a resource for all organisations involved in planning for and responding to major flooding.

The Environment Minister, Phil Woolas, said the Defra funding recognised that community level defences were not viable in all areas and that householders could make make a big difference by protecting their own properties with such things as door-boards, air-brick covers and water-proof walls and floors. “Putting a package of measures in place can cost 4,000 to 5,000 pounds for the average semi-detached house, but it could prevent flood damage of up to tens of thousands of pounds, as well as the attendant distress and disruption that flooding can cause,” he said.

Last summer’s floods affected 48,000 homes and led to more than 180,000 insurance claims.