Posted by: waterworks | January 21, 2008

16. FIPs (Flood-Ignorance Packs)

Three weeks into 2008, and already many parts of Britain are either under water or at imminent risk of flooding.  Forty-five areas have been placed on high alert.  Several of these are locations still recovering from the floods of June and July 2007.  So are times getting tougher for British home-owners on account of more extreme weather?  Is climate change genuinely increasing flood frequency and severity?  Has extensive floodplain building and poor flood defence maintenance (not to mention increased sheep numbers in Wales) exacerbated the situation further?  Or has a relatively recent rise of 24-hour news reporting – and the proliferation of new media channels – merely conjured an illusion of a wetter and more hazardous world?  Whatever the causes, an increasingly large area of England, Wales and Scotland now appears thoroughly beleaguered by persistent and serious flooding, testing resilience to ever-greater limits.  And first-time-buyers thinking of taking out a 25-year mortgage for property in any low-lying area would certainly do well to research local flood facts first.  

All of which makes the UK Government’s recent decision not to include flood risk as a mandatory search in the new Home Information Packs (HIPs) disappointing.  HIPs consist of important information that house-sellers are now legally obliged to compile for the benefit of potential buyers.  The aim is to speed up and simplify the business of property purchasing. However, full disclosure of known flood risk has not been insisted upon for HIPs.  The decision has not gone un-challenged and the recent Pitt Review (on 2007 flooding) noted that inclusion of flood facts could help boost awareness: “The Review … sees merit in its inclusion.  The Review understands that the Government plans to monitor this issue and look again at the decision once the system has been in operation for a year.” 

Until then, HIPs remain FIPs (Flood Ignorance Packs).


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