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Last Updated: Saturday, 14 July 2007, 12:05 GMT 13:05 UK
Call for flood insurance change
By Bob Howard
BBC Radio 4's Money Box

High water levels are seen outside houses in Toll Bar near Doncaster, England
Many of the homes recently flooded were built on flood plains
House builders have been accused of "walking away" from developments which flood by an MP who is calling for them to fund flood insurance.

Labour MP Alan Simpson wants developers to pay for insurance for up to 20 years after they build on flood plains.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown said he will consider the proposal.

But the Home Builders Federation said its members should not have to insure new homes as flood risk is assessed before they get planning permission.

Alan Simpson's proposal would mean house builders taking out an insurance bond in case a development floods after the buyer moves in.

Mr Simpson said thousands of families now face the prospect of their houses being plagued by regular flooding and the struggle to find insurance.

He believes a change in approach by developers is essential to protect home-buyers in the future.

"It would either make them think twice about building on flood plain land or it would make them change the design basis upon which they're built," he told BBC Radio 4's Money Box.

Government figures show that in 2005,9% of new homes were built in flood risk areas.

Environment Agency statistics show that between 2003 and 2006, 707 developments were approved by local councils against its advice.

Flood defences

The insurance industry is also calling for change.

An agreement with the government means cover should continue to be offered to homeowners even if they live in flood risk areas.

Malcolm Tarling from the Association of British Insurers has warned that if homes are built on flood plains, the government must provide adequate flood defences.

All reasonable risks should be properly assessed and managed at the planning stage
John Slaughter, Home Builders Federation

He said: "The rising risk of flooding means that homes should not be built onthe floodplain.

"If they are, and there are no - or inadequate - flood defences in place, then home insurance may be difficult to get or more expensive."

Developers maintain that the pressure for new houses means it is impossible to find sites to build on which are entirely free from the risk of flooding, and the priority is to assess the risk accurately.

John Slaughter from the Home Builders Federation, said planning restrictions are already in place.

"We now have a planning policy for flood risk management which all developers have to apply when they're applying for planning permission," he told the programme.

"All reasonable risks should be properly assessed and managed at the planning stage and we believe that's what the current system will do."

Meanwhile, the government has announced that its flood prevention budget from will increase from 600m to 800m.

BBC Radio 4's Money Box was broadcast on Saturday, 14 July 2007 at 1204 BST.

The programme was repeated on Sunday, 15 July 2007 at 2102 BST.



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