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Government aims to counter Thames Gateway flood fears

The government has attempted to alleviate growing fears over the susceptibility of the Thames Gateway development area to massive flooding.

The Department of Communities and Local Government has issued Planning Policy Statement 25, known as PPS 25, to address these concerns.

It insists that construction of new homes in the Thames Gateway valley is not irresponsible as long as it is managed correctly.

The document comes at a time when warnings about rising sea-levels due to global warming are coming at an increasing frequency.

These have, in turn, led many planning and environment experts to question the wisdom of building thousands of new homes in the Thames Gateway.

PPS 25 accepts this criticism, but insists that risks can be reduced to a point where it would be sensible to encourage new residential construction.

The document states: 'Insurance industry research has shown that residual risk to new housing developments behind flood defences in London could be substantial (£26 million per year).

'But with good planning, and flood-resilient design and construction, many of these costs could be avoided.

'It is estimated in the Thames Gateway, where more than 90 per cent of the land for development lies in designated flood risk areas, a sequential approach that allocates housing to the lowest-risk areas could reduce potential flood risk losses by up to 52 per cent.

'In other planned growth areas, it is estimated that moving development to non-floodplain parts of sites could reduce flood risks by up to 96 per cent,' it adds.

by Ed Dorrell

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