United Kingdom

Flooded towns face more rain as unprotected areas 'are at risk of becoming flood ghettos'

Towns already suffering from severe flooding are facing more heavy rain this weekend, as unprotected areas are at risk of becoming “flood ghettos” if the government does not change it’s insurance scheme, a think tank has warned.

On Friday night, more than 70 flood warnings remained in place, with the focus shifting to Yorkshire and the North West.

As much as a month’s rainfall is expected to fall on Saturday, with the Met Office warning that the downpours will continue into next week.

The threat of more flooding comes as the government faces scrutiny over an insurance scheme set up to protect homeowners who live in “high risk” flood areas.

Flood Re was created by the Government and the insurance industry in 2016 to make flood insurance affordable for households in high risk areas. 

Insurers can pass the flood risk element of household insurance to Flood Re for a fixed price, lowering household premiums and excesses.

But homes built after 2008 are not eligible for the scheme, and a new report has found that some 70,000 residential properties have been built on land at the highest risk of flooding in England since 2009, including 20,000 that were not protected by flood defences.

Bright Blue, a liberal conservative think tank has found that around £5 billion worth of properties are undefended against flooding, with hundreds of millions have been spent building at-risk properties in Lincolnshire, Somerset and Yorkshire.

They also note that there is no legal requirement to provide flood risk information to homebuyers.

Ryan Shorthouse, the think tank’s director told BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme: “As climate change is increasing flooding risk there is a danger that we create flood ghettos, that we have uninsured properties, that small businesses don’t move into those areas, that people are unable to move homes and sell their homes.”

One of the areas under scrutiny is Doncaster, where 727 residential properties have been built in high flood risk areas since 2008.

Ed Miliband, former Labour leader and MP for Doncaster North told The Telegraph: “As Bright Blue correctly state in their report, we are in danger of seeing the burden of the climate emergency falling on those least able to afford it.

“Victims of the flooding in Doncaster were promised by the Prime Minister that there would be schemes to support them. That promise must be honoured, Flood Re needs to be extended and it needs to ensure protection for all those at risk of flooding.”

In the South West, opportunist lead thieves have been targeting church roofs, according to the Diocese of Wells and Bath.

Around six tonnes of lead was stolen from St Martin's Church in Kingsbury Episcopi, about nine miles north-east of Yeovil, during Storm Dennis.

Barbara Moore, the warden, said she was upset and angry.

"It's one of the most historic and significant buildings in the parish. There won't be enough in the insurance to pay for it."

In Sonning, Berkshire, George and Amal Clooney have seen floodwater surround their £12m Grade-II listed mansion. Aerial pictures show the couple’s lawn, veranda and tennis court underwater, as the property faces being flooded for a second time in four years.

And in Wales, a fundraiser launched by Good Omens actor Michael Sheen on Wednesday evening has since doubled its initial target of collecting £10,000 for Welsh people affected by Storm Dennis.

On Friday, Prince Charles visited Pontypridd, south Wales, where homes and businesses have been left flooded after days of rain.

Speaking to locals about the effects of climate change, he said that he “had been warning about this for many years.” 

"Unfortunately no-one was listening because they thought you were a bit cuckoo and talking to your flowers,” he added.

In the village of Mytholmroyd, West Yorkshire, business owners were seen using buckets and brooms to move flood water away from their shop fronts. 

The Met Office said that parts of Yorkshire are facing up to 80mm of rainfall heading into the weekend with a further 40mm on Monday.

It is the third consecutive weekend that the Calder Valley area is on high alert for more flooding, with 500 homes and 400 businesses affected by Storm Ciara.

Scott Patient, a Labour member of Calderdale Council, said his community is still "picking up the pieces" from Storm Ciara two weeks ago, despite more than £30m being spent on flood defences in the area.

"We're really concerned about what will happen next because the barriers and walls will only protect us so much," he said.

"There are definitely questions to be answered about what went wrong as this is our third major flood in seven years. It's an uphill struggle getting funding for flood defences and it's reactive rather than proactive."