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New buildings need to reect climate change, say experts

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WITHOUT UPDATES to design codes, homes will become uninsurable against wetter, windier weather, engineers and climate change experts warned this week.

Climate change predictions to be released next week by the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change are expected to conclude that extreme weather could become commonplace in the British winter.

Ant Wilson, director of the building division at Faber Maunsell, said that if design codes stay as they are, what can be built will be determined and limited by insurance companies which 'will mitigate risk by not insuring, with blacklisted areas you cannot build'.

The Association of British Insurers (ABI) agreed. 'If we act now we would cope. If nothing is done we only provide cover as long as the government protects od defences, ' said a spokesperson. The ABI warned in November that the east coast will be threatened by rising sea levels by 2040.

'Unfortunately, the government's focus is on how building impacts the environment, not the other way round, ' the spokesman said. 'Should no provision for rising sea levels be made then the Thames Gateway development could be a white elephant, with houses uninsurable and at risk.' Department for Communities & Local Government said it does not have a policy for adapting to climate change, except to design houses to be cooler in the summer.

The ABI said that codes for wind could be modied immediately: 'We have been calling for building and design regulations in the south east to be tightened to reflect those in Scotland, ' said the spokesperson. 'Scotland, which is affected by more wind, suffers a lot less damage.'

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