4.1 How might building on flood plains be reduced?
In Video 2 you will hear Matt Georges from the Environment Agency talking about ways to tackle this problem of building on flood plains.
He first makes clear that 95 per cent of local authorities follow Environment Agency advice not to build on flood plains, so this problem is small, relative to the total of new building that is undertaken. However, this still means that some 25,000 homes a year (around 11 per cent of new residential properties in England) were built in areas with a high flood risk in 2016-17 (Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government, 2018; Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government, 2019).
Activity 7 A range of options
Watch Video 2. What options does Matt Georges suggests for reducing the amount of building on flood plains.
Transcript: Video 2 Matt Georges from the Environment Agency
Matt Georges talks about a spectrum of interventions. The first is to use the planning system: using this to refuse permission to build on flood plains (though note that in England such developments are not banned outright but at the discretion of local authorities).
If developments do go ahead then they can be made more flood resilient through adaptations (such as waist-height electrical sockets) and flood risk reduction measures (such as brick walls and up-river land management changes). While Georges does not say who would pay for these, one option would be to make developers bear such costs thus internalising the externalities you looked at a moment ago.
Georges then suggests initiatives to help people cope if flooding does occur, such as warnings and encouraging people to have flood plans. And the final option he mentions is flood insurance.