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Insurers want say in flood plain plans

INSURANCE COMPANIES are threatening to refuse cover for new houses built on flood plains unless they can be involved in planning decisons, a leading insurer said last week.

Director of environmental management at leading insurance group CGNU Anthony Sampson said: 'Insurers have a real contribution to make [in flood plain decisions] and if we are not involved this could lead to situations where cover is unaffordable or unavailable.'

Sampson was speaking at building research body BRE's annual conference which this year focused on working with the environment.

Climate change means insurers and building owners face increasing exposure to 'unwelcome inundation, ' Sampson said.

'We have to act now and rethink where buildings are erected or how they are designed. If someone is putting up a development they need to know it is insurable. We do not want insurance blackspots. We need to get the issue on the table and discussed now.'

The Association of British Insurers has been talking to government over concerns that plans to build millions of new homes over the next five years will inevitably mean more building on flood plains.

South east England, which was badly hit in this winter's floods, and East Anglia, which is under threat from rising sea levels, need to find land for a combined total of 48,000 houses a year, according to regional planning guidance figures.

Across the UK there are already plans to build 400,000 homes on flood plains.

'We do not want any building on flood plains at all, ' said an ABI spokesman, 'or only where there are sufficient and adequate flood defences proposed as part of the development. It is not for us to be the planning officer but we do want insurance to be considered as part of the process.'

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