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Environment

How to find out if your home is likely to flood – and what help you can get

Thousands of homes are being built on flood plains in the UK – here’s how to check if yours is at risk.

Flooding is one of the biggest climate challenges faced by the UK – but new research shows house-building is continuing in areas with the highest flood risk. 

A report from insurance company LV and think tank Localis has revealed more than 5,000 homes have been approved this year in areas of England which are at a high risk of flooding.

“High risk” areas are those – such as Kingston Upon Hull or South Holland – where more than 10 per cent of homes are already at significant risk of flooding. 

As the climate crisis intensifies, more homes than ever will be at risk of flooding from rivers and seas. 

Here’s how to check whether your home is vulnerable – and what protections you’re entitled to. 

How can I find out if my home is at risk of flooding?

There are several ways you can identify whether your home and local area is at risk of flooding. 

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One map uses Environment Agency data on the risk of flooding from rivers and the sea to plot which areas in England are most vulnerable to floods. 

If you put your postcode into the map, it shows in detail which areas around you are most at risk of flooding.

The risk is ranked in bands from high – a greater than one in 30 chance of flooding in a year – to very low: a one in 1,000 chance of flooding in a year.

The map takes into account the presence and current state of flood barriers in a local area. 

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The government website also offers a tool for checking long-term flood risk of your local area, giving you a summary of your risk and the main sources of flooding, if applicable.

The Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA) offers a map for Scotland showing which areas are most at risk.

What these maps don’t show is the projected future risk for flooding as climate change intensifies. 

Climate change central has produced a map which shows areas at risk of flooding in future scenarios, including in 2050.

Though your home may not be at risk currently, future sea level rise could mean that your home may flood in decades to come. 

Which parts of the country are most at risk of flooding?

According to the report from LV and Localis, 12 local authorities in England have more than 10 per cent of homes in areas at high risk of flooding. These are:

  1. South Holland
  2. Boston
  3. Fenland
  4. Runnymede
  5. King’s Lynn & West Norfolk
  6. Kingston-upon Hull
  7. East Lindsey
  8. North Lincolnshire
  9. Spelthorne
  10.  Doncaster
  11.  Exeter
  12.  Windsor & Maidenhead

This list only reflects areas with a high percentage of homes in at-risk areas, rather than areas with the highest level of flooding generally. 

Why is development being approved in high-risk areas? 

The twin pressures of the climate crisis and the housing crisis mean more land is becoming prone for flooding at the same time as housing need is intensifying.

In local authorities with existing risk levels for flooding, this means that there’s sometimes little choice over where to build desperately-needed homes.

This leads to homes being built on floodplains in spite of national planning policy directing local authorities to avoid this wherever possible.

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What protections are in place? 

Earlier this year, the government outlined an investment of £5.2billion into flood protection for the UK, with plans for more than 1,000 schemes to be implemented in 2021 and 2022.

Property owners in areas at high risk of flooding can also access the Flood Re scheme, which helps make insurance affordable for those vulnerable to floods. 

You can use the Flood Re tool on its website to find out whether you’d be eligible for help.

You may also be able to access grants and funding in order to future-proof your property or business against flooding. You can find out more about these grants on the flood guidance website.

There have been warnings of gaps in protection, however, with a recent investigation by Greenpeace revealing that more than 1,000 privately-owned flood defences are in poor condition. 

Some people are also struggling to access the Flood Re scheme, which doesn’t cover properties built after 2009.

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