DEVELOPERS MUST INTRODUCE NEW MEASURES TO PROTECT HOMES AND BUSINESSES AGAINST FLOODING, COUNCILS WARN

Posted: Monday 16th May 2016

Developers must introduce a raft of new measures to ensure new homes and businesses are better protected against floods, councils say.

The proposals - covering new properties at risk from flooding - could in the long-term save thousands of homes from the worst ravages of flooding and hundreds of millions of pounds in damage.

The Local Government Association (LGA), which represents more than 370 councils in England and Wales, wants the Government to bring in mandatory anti-flood requirements for new homes in building regulations. These include raised electrical sockets, fuse boxes, controls and wiring above floor level; ventilation brick covers; sealed floors; and raised damp-proof courses. Building regulations reflect national government policies and control how homes are built and whether they are legal. Councils ensure developers stick to them.

The call comes as claims for damage caused by floods from this winter (2015-16) alone is expected to top £5 billion with thousands of families facing financial difficulty as a result.

Councils continue to pull out all the stops to help flood-hit households and businesses recover from the devastation wreaked by storms Desmond, Eva and Frank this winter. Staff have worked tirelessly with volunteers and local community groups, keeping residents up to date with regular postings on their websites and through social media and special flood-watch apps. Councils have also visited flood-hit areas to collect household items such as carpets and furniture to dispose of them. So far, an average 1.66 tonnes of household goods and freezer waste has had to be removed from each of the 21,000 homes and businesses that have been flooded, the LGA estimates.

Councils are also calling for all landfill tax, which is calculated at just over £82 per tonne, to be returned to local taxpayers and invested back into projects that will support local jobs and growth, rather than go to the Treasury. The LGA says government funding has been important in the recovery process - but warns councils will need more financial help as the full cost of the damage emerges. New flood defence funding should also be devolved by the Government to local areas, with councils working with communities and businesses to ensure money is directed towards projects that best reflect local needs.

Cllr Martin Tett, LGA Environment spokesman, said: "It would be easy and inexpensive for developers to introduce a raft of measures to ensure homes and offices are more flood proof. These include sealing floors, raising damp-proofing courses and putting electricity meters on upper-floors so homes still have power when flood water hits.

"These simple and straightforward steps could in the long-term save thousands of homes and businesses from some of the catastrophic damage and trauma which we saw this winter.

"We are urging the Government to make it a mandatory requirement for builders in at-risk areas to better protect properties from flooding. For example, if fuse boxes had been on upper rather than ground floors, many families caught in the winter chaos may still have had power. For a household gripped by the horror and trauma of flooding, electricity can be a lifeline.

"Other measures from the Government could also make a massive difference in helping councils. These include allowing councils to keep landfill tax and devolving new flood defence funding to local areas.

"Councils continue to give their all for flood-hit areas. The sense of community spirit across the country and huge efforts of council staff who have worked long hours and with little rest has been inspirational. "




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