Most housing zones sites 'in flood risk areas'

Reports that thousands of new homes proposed for brownfield sites under the government's housing zones initiative 'are at significant risk of flooding and could be uninsurable' feature in today's newspaper round-up.

The Telegraph reports that an investigation by environmental charity Greenpeace found that up to 9,000 new homes are scheduled for development under the scheme by local councils on land the Environment Agency says is at either "serious" or "significant" risk of flooding. "Nine out of the 20 schemes were fully or partially exposed to serious risk of flooding from rivers or sea, Greenpeace found. Of the nine, six areas overlapped with high probability flood risk zones meaning they had a 1 in 100 or greater annual probability of river flooding; or a 1 in 200 or greater annual probability of sea flooding", the newspaper says.

The Guardian reports that the UK government "was warned by its official climate change advisers in October that it needed to take action on the increasing number of homes at high risk of flooding but rejected the advice." The newspaper says that a decision not to develop a strategy to address increased flooding risk, recommended by the Committee on Climate Change, "came just a few weeks before Storm Desmond brought about severe flooding in Cumbria, Lancashire and other parts of the North West causing an estimated £500 million of damage."

London’s Evening Standard reports that proposals for a 72-storey "Paddington Shard" skyscraper above the train station "have come under attack from the government’s heritage advisers." The newspaper says that the plans were unveiled in October ahead of a planning application with Westminster Council expected later this month. But the Standard says that in an "unusually strongly worded response to the plans" seen by the newspaper, "Nigel Barker, planning and conservation director for London at Historic England, said he had ‘very serious concerns’ about the impact on views, historic buildings and parks."

The Guardian reports that the government "has shocked the renewable energy industry by proposing a massive hike in VAT on solar panels and wind turbines from next summer." The newspaper says that the moves, announced by the revenue and customs authority, HMRC, made "a mockery of (David) Cameron’s claims to climate leadership" according to critics.

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