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Flood defence measures needed for 4.9M unprotected homes, says BRE

The £2.3bn investment in flood defences announced in the autumn statement leaves 4.9M UK homes still unprotected, a new white paper from the BRE has warned.

The organisation said it welcomed the funding, unveiled by Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander at the launch of the Infrastructure Plan 2014 earlier this month.

But the BRE warned that “with one in six homes now under threat of flooding from rivers, sea and surface water, a new approach to dealing with the risks is needed”.

The white paper by the BRE’s Centre for Resilience director Dr Stephen Garvin recommends:

A flood management approach based on resilience is required where we learn to live with water, given that the scale of risk flooding can’t be defended against fully.

Investment in research and innovation to develop materials, product and designs conducive to resilience.

Regulations and standards for the many thousands of properties built in flood risk areas, and new guidance for existing homes.

It also described the construction industry as “not ready” for resilience, saying: “To draw a parallel, the construction sector is roughly where it was in regards to sustainability before the first oil crisis in the 1970s.”

Garvin said: “There are 5.2M homes at risk of flooding. Government’s investment in flood defences will protect 300,000 of these but a new approach to flood management is needed to reduce the risks further.

“The Centre urges the Government to think about the rise in surface water flooding, prevalent in urban areas as this requires a more adaptive flood management approach. Our urban environment continues to grow apace – surface water management needs to be embedded in the new developments we construct with things like sustainable urban drainage systems, green roofs to decrease water run off as well as localised flood resilient technologies.”

The white paper can be downloaded here.

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