Headlines: February 10th, 2009

The Environment Agency has raised concerns over local planning authorities granting permission for developments in spite of its objections on the grounds of flood risk. In a report it says councils gave the go-ahead to 16 major developments, including a ferry terminal, 240 homes and a primary school, in a 12-month period in spite of the threat of flooding.

The annual ‘Development and Flood Risk’ report looks at the performance of local planning authorities in England in the year up to March 2008 on planning applications where the Agency provided advice on flood risk. Ninety six per cent of decisions were in line with its advice. That is the highest ever level of compliance but the number of schemes approved in spite of objections was up from 13 to 16 in the same period.

In the report the Environment Agency points out that the insurance industry has already indicated that companies may not provide insurance to some new developments on flood plains if properties are approved against the Agency’s advice. Its Chief Executive, Paul Leinster, said there were already millions of people at risk from flooding and that number was likely to rise because of the effects of climate change. “We helped reduce the risk of flooding to some 7,000 extra properties in England in the six months to September 2007. We’re playing our part in managing the risk to properties and people, and local authorities have a crucial part to play by restricting development in flood plains,” he said.

Through co-operation with planning authorities the Agency was influencing decisions and preventing developments that could have placed people at risk. Mr. Leinster added, “We’re pleased that most councils take our flood risk advice in relation to planning decisions, but are concerned that a minority of decisions go against our advice.”