The Greenpeace study found nine out of 20 of the brownfield sites designated as housing zones under the scheme, comprising a total of 9,000 planned new homes, are in areas identified as being partially or fully at risk of flooding.
In Wakefield, Yorkshire planners are pushing forward to build 1,500 homes near the town of Castleford, which flooded by five feet last August.
A further 1,000 homes are planned for Hinkley, Bridgwater in Somerset, also hit by last year’s floods. Its local district council has paid out more than £280,000 in grants and tax relief to flood victims in the past three years.
At least 750 homes are planned in 15 sites around the towns of Gainsborough and Morton, Lincolnshire, despite Greenpeace’s research showing the borough council responsible for Morton has seen a 24% cut compared to last year in its flood prevention budget.
Building on these sites could prove expensive to the future homeowners as the Flood Re government scheme does not grant insurance cover on properties built from 2009 onwards, meaning buyers will have to rely on commercial insurers who may not insure ‘flood zone’ homes, or will do so at very high rates.
Greenpeace’s research also revealed that the number of people working on flood and coastal erosion risk management for the Environment Agency, which plays a key role in advising councils on flood risks, fell by 5% in the last three years.
Dr Doug Parr, chief scientist at Greenpeace UK, said: “The current flood emergency isn’t even over yet, and the government is already storing up the next one. Rushing to build thousands of new homes in flood-risk areas whilst at the same time cutting flood protection staff is a recipe for disaster.”
He said that while David Cameron’s ‘lofty rhetoric’ at the UN climate summit is helpful, the PM will need to put effort into climate-savvy projects on the ground to protect Britain from the impacts of climate change.
“When it comes to energy, flood defences, and other big infrastructure projects, we need the government’s hand to start following what the government’s mouth is saying rather than acting of their own accord.”