Environmental Changes and their impact on the property market

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The UK climate is changing and with it a myriad of increasing pressures piled onto central government, local authorities and the property sector.

The past year has been littered with severe localised flooding, landslides, earthquakes and unpredictable weather patterns.

In turn this is leading to community displacement, forced evacuations and extensive property damage. The following article will look at the changing climate, the issues affecting property and the dangerous reality for newly built housing and developments moving through the planning process.

The Problems in the Present

The UK has been plagued with adverse weather it is unable to plan and prepare for in recent years. Throughout November 2019, at least six severe weather warnings, indicating a threat or danger to life, were enforced by the Met Office.

Areas of Lincolnshire and Yorkshire were shaken to their core as over a month of rainfall fell in a single night.

The Environment Agency’s (EA) rain gauge recorded 4.4 inches (112mm) worth of rain falling in the worst hit area of the Peak District.

Other areas of Yorkshire, like Doncaster and Worksop experienced 3.5 inches of rainfall in a single day.

When the average monthly rainfall for the entirety of November is only 3.5 inches, the nearby rivers were overwhelmed causing breached floods and sewers flooded causing sewage-ridden water to overpower the towns and devastate shops, business premises and residential homes.

During the height of the floods, evacuees took residence in shopping centres until the waters began to dissipate.

Alongside these events, residents in Mansfield have also been dealing with the aftermath of two significant landslides as a consequence of the flooding.

Properties built within close proximity to an abandoned quarry were forced into temporary accommodation for over two weeks as land slippage invaded nearby gardens.

Having cleared almost 13,000 tons of debris from the surrounding areas, homeowners were given the all clear to return.

Although the British Geological Survey (BGS) record between 200 and 300 earthquakes in the UK each year, only around 30 are strong enough to be felt.

However, homes in Somerset were shaken at the start of December after a seismograph recorded tremors exceeding 3.2 magnitude on the scale.

The town of Bridgwater in Somerset suffered homes shaking, low rumbles and short cracking sounds.

As the climate changes, experts anticipate regular erratic weather patterns causing even greater disruption.

Adverse Weather and the Impact on UK Property

For homes in the UK living close to known flood zones, this change is likely to mean a persistent and increasingly common threat.

According to research carried out by Greenpeace, the UK is currently ‘planning for disaster’ by approving residential developments in known flood zones.

The Environment Agency claim the National Planning Policy Framework insists that inappropriate development in areas known for flood risks should be avoided.

Unfortunately, as the UK’s housing crisis intensifies the need for additional homes, planning due diligence is becoming less of a factor.

Between 2017-18, almost all (99.4%) of all planning applications adhered to advice regarding flooding. However, this figure fell to 97.3% in 2018-19.

Greenpeace has argued that this has led to 9,688 new homes being built on known flood-hit locations.

Over 5,000 new homes have been approved for development in high-risk areas of Lincolnshire alone, leaving the new homeowners with a 1 in 100 chance of flooding per year.

Thousands more have been scheduled for development in medium-risk zones, with residents facing odds of 1 in 1,000 chance of flooding each year.

Future Environmental Changes

Unfortunately, the science suggests that these odds are set to narrow in the future as climate changes to ensure severe weather becomes the annual standard in the UK.

The Met Office has forecast wetter winters and drier summers by 2070. Winter rainfall is set to rise by 35% by 2070 whilst summer months are on course to become 47% drier than the present day.

The way rain falls is also forecast to become more ferocious in the coming years, leading to increased fears of flash floods and housing damage.

By 2070, extreme hourly rainfall intensity associated with an event that typically occurs every two years will increase by a quarter.

Furthermore, winter rain will come from frontal rain events of higher intensity which could create more localised flooding in colder months whilst short lived high intensity showers in the summer could mean the UK will need to prepare for adverse weather.

Overall, this means all property stakeholders need to ensure they have carried out due diligence on the areas before making an offer.

Whilst the Environmental Agency claim 5 million people live in areas around rivers or the sea which are prone to flooding, climate changes and current weather patterns suggest that most areas are now susceptible to flood damage.

Flood reports should become an absolute must when conducting conveyancing searches.

GlobalX offer a large range of flood risk reports to suit any type of conveyancing transaction. Reports are available for both residential and commercial properties and can also be undertaken on a piece of land.

Flood reports provide critical information on river, coastal, groundwater and surface water risks and enables legal professionals to assess the flood risk of a particular property or piece of land.

From efficient automated reports through to manually assessed environmental reports, GlobalX can offer the ideal report to suit all needs. Contact us on 0800 197 1757 to find out more or complete our contact form.