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Lib Dems demand homes on stilts

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The Liberal Democrats have called for new homes and businesses in the Thames Gateway to be built on stilts 'like in Zanzibar' to prevent flood damage.

Speaking before the launch of an investigation into potential flood risks, the party's London Assembly environment spokesman demanded buildings should be constructed 'several feet above the ground' to reduce the effects of flooding and help their owners get insurance.

'Climate change is bringing higher sea-levels and increasing the risk of flooding in areas like the Thames Gateway,' said Mike Tuffrey, before the start of yesterday's enquiry (7 April) into the threat by the London Assembly's environment committee.

'With over 85,000 homes in total planned for the Gateway's floodplains and £19 billion-worth of assets at stake, it's vital that new and innovative ways are put forward in the Gateway area to reduce the threat from flooding.

'While building properties on stilts may seem novel to people in London, this sort of development is commonplace in places such as Atlanta and Zanzibar. People know that to avoid the threat of flooding, their houses need to be built above water level,' he added.

According to figures released by the Lib Dems, an extreme flood could cause damage in excess of £16 billion to new property within the Thames Gateway area.

'It's vital that the mayor, insurance companies, developers, ministers, and local authorities get round the table to establish responsible, innovative planning measures and secure reliable funding to protect homes in the Thames Gateway from flooding,' Tuffrey continued.

'Without sustained cooperation and financial backing, some new buildings in the Gateway will be in danger of turning into an uninsurable and uninhabitable white elephants,' he added.

by Richard Waite

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