Environment Agency flood maps play catch up

After widespread flooding in 1998 of the Godmanchester area of Cambridge where 500 homes and properties were effect, the Environment Agency secured £10m to construct flood defences to protect the town for the next 100 years.

A string of flood alleviation schemes have been constructed in the in the area with Godmanchester as the last major scheme to be implemented.

The aim of the Environment Agency Flood Alleviation Scheme was to protect properties in the town that had no formal defences and reduce the risk of flooding from once in 20 years to once in 100 years.

A combination of flood walls and embankments were built alongside the Great Ouse River passing through 31 gardens over a 2 year period which was completed in February 2014.

However, since the opening of the Alleviation Scheme over a year ago, Godmanchester homeowners are still experiencing problems with obtaining insurance cover for their properties because of a flood risk.

The Environment Agency will not include the area protected by the scheme on its flood map, used by insurance firms to calculate premiums, before the autumn.

Instead it is writing to residents and is giving them letters they can use in discussions with their insurers.

Godmanchester’s Town councillor Nigel Pauley said: “It is appalling that after the flood defences were completed insurance companies have not updated their records and are still unfairly penalising residents for a flood risk that no longer exists.

“I was never convinced many of the homes were at risk before the defences and I am definitely not happy that insurers still think they are.”

A spokesman for the Environment Agency, which was behind the scheme, said: “We are updating the flood map to reflect the new scheme in Godmanchester.

“Over the coming months we will be writing to all residents protected by the scheme and providing them with a letter they can use in discussions with their insurance companies.”

The agency said the update would be on its flood map published in August and in information used by the insurance industry would be published in the autumn or winter.

A spokesman for the Association of British Insurers said: “Insurers want to pass on the effect of changes to flood risk to our customers as quickly as possible.

“Unfortunately, this does take time to do this and we have to use the Environment Agency flood maps.”

However, Godmanchester property owners still face concerns over whether they can obtain flood insurance cover for the coming months ahead. Unfortunately the Insurers are unable to react until the Environment Agency flood maps play catch up and they are up dated this Autumn.  It begs believe it takes the Environment Agency this long to update the flood maps for a scheme which commenced in 2012 and they knew full well would complete in the Spring of 2014. Find out more about Flood Risk Assessment.