Flood fury rages in UK

By Adam Sherwin

Anger turns on developers who target sites vulnerable to heavy rains.

Residents head for dry ground in St Asaph, North Wales.  Photo / AP
Residents head for dry ground in St Asaph, North Wales. Photo / AP

Heavy rain continued to cause chaos across Britain yesterday as anger turned against developers who target vulnerable sites for housing developments without paying for the necessary flood defences.

The body of an elderly woman was found in a flooded home in St Asaph, north Wales, and 500 residents were forced to evacuate their properties after the River Elwy broke its banks.

Some were rescued by lifeboats and a pregnant woman was brought out of her window by Red Cross volunteers.

In nearby Ruthin, residents prepared to flee after Denbighshire County Council said up to 400 properties could be at risk.

The Environment Agency said 191 flood warnings were in force across Britain, with 960 homes having suffered flooding since last Wednesday. In North Yorkshire, more than 50 houses in Pickering were under threat whilst officials monitored levels on the River Ouse in York.

The Environment Agency said levels in the River Nene in Northamptonshire had risen significantly and added that large, slow-responding rivers - particularly the Thames, Trent and Severn - would continue to rise over the next few days.

As Prime Minister David Cameron visited the worst-affected areas in Devon, local residents complained developers had won permission to build new homes on sites already at risk of flooding.

Properties in Feniton, East Devon, devastated by flooding in 2008, were once again evacuated as water cascaded from a field where developers Wainhomes have won a controversial ruling to build 50 new homes, despite evidence that new developments can exacerbate local flooding problems.

Roger Giles, a Devon County councillor, said: "Feniton has a long history of flooding and people are angry about this new development.

"It is on elevated land and the water is cascading down from it like a waterfall.

"Feniton is being targeted by developers but what we really need is the new flood defence scheme. But the cost is estimated at [$3 million] and last year East Devon District Council cut its flood defence budget."

The Planning Inspectorate approved the development, in the face of opposition from village residents and councillors, because the council had failed to meet a new Government obligation to provide suitable building sites to meet local housing needs. Building work is due to start next month.

Cameron yesterday promised to take a tough approach on negotiations with insurers over homes in danger of flooding after he met householders in the village of Buckfastleigh, which was struck by flash flooding at the weekend.

Up to 200,000 high-risk properties could be priced out of affordable cover when a deal struck in 2000 between the then Labour Government and the Association of British Insurers ends next northern summer.

The Government has been in talks for two years but as yet an agreement has not been reached.

- Independent

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