Climate Action

Environment Agency says UK must avoid building homes on flood plains

The Environment Agency has warned that the UK must avoid building homes on flood plains.

  • 25 February 2020
  • Rachel Cooper

The Environment Agency has warned that the UK must avoid building homes on flood plains.

After a run of bad weather, the Environment Agency Chief Executive Sir James Bevan has warned that new homes in the UK must avoid being built on flood plains.

Sir James highlights that a new ‘twin track’ approach focused on better flood protection and resilience is needed to deal with the climate emergency following weeks of record-breaking river levels and flooding across the UK.

This month, England has already received over 200 per cent of its average rainfall so far with some areas experiencing a month’s worth of rain in 24 hours.

Later this year, the Environment Agency will publish its new floods strategy, setting out plans to prepare for and adapt to the risks that climate change is creating.

Sir James Bevan said: “First, we must continue to do what we have been doing for some years now: building and maintaining strong defences to reduce the risk of communities being flooded. But in the face of the climate emergency, we now need a second, parallel, track: making our communities more resilient to flooding so that when it does happen it poses much less risk to people, does much less damage, and life can get back to normal much quicker.”

“The best way to defuse the weather bomb is better protection and stronger resilience. We need both.”

The Environment Agency is already spending £2.6 billion on building new flood defences that will better protect 300,000 properties by 2021 and over £1bn to maintain existing defences in England.

Of that £2.6 billion, 55 per cent is going to reduce flood risk from rivers and 45 per cent is reducing risk on the coast. The investment programme will also better protect nearly 6,000 miles of motorways and local roads, 300 miles of railways and over 700,00 acres of farmland.