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National Audit Office release startling figures on number of properties at risk of flooding in Kent

With local authorities continuing to permit new housing to be erected on flood plains, the National Audit Office has released a nationwide study of how many properties are already at risk.

The figures are based on evidence gathered by the Environment Agency and can be broken down on a borough-by-borough basis across Kent.

Will this become an increasingly common scene in years to come?
Will this become an increasingly common scene in years to come?

In total, the Environment Agency estimates that 5.2 million homes and businesses in England are at risk of flooding and that around 700 properties are vulnerable to being lost to coastal erosion over the next 20 years.

At the same time, the Met Office’s climate projections indicates more extreme weather events and rising sea levels as a result of climate change.

This, when combined with increased housing development, will heighten flooding and coastal erosion risks.

The government is attempting to mitigate the risks and has set the agency the task of providing protection to 300,000 homes between 2015 and 2021, and the agency says it is on course with measures taken so far that have already secured better prospects for 242,000 homes.

However, the data shows that in the borough of Maidstone, there are 3,803 properties at "medium to high risk" of flooding. That represents 4.1% of the entire housing stock in the town.

Flooding in Headcorn
Flooding in Headcorn

Or to put it another way, one in every 25 homes is at risk of flooding.

In Swale, 2,109 properties are at medium to high risk, that's 2.6% of the housing stock.

In Tonbridge and Malling, 4,567 homes are at medium to high risk, representing 6.8% of the total housing stock.

In Sevenoaks, the number is 1,474 homes, or 2.2% of the housing stock.

In Tunbridge Wells, the number is 1,761 homes, or 2.7% of the housing stock.

Flooding in Yalding
Flooding in Yalding

All of the figures are based on the risk of flooding from rivers or the sea.

They do not take into account flooding caused by local drainage systems being unable to cope with surface water run-off, which is becoming an increasingly common occurrence in Staplehurst and Marden.

A report from the Environment Agency concludes that by 2021, despite the expenditure of £2.6 billion on flood defences it will not be possible to say that the overall level of flood risk in England was lower than it was at the start of the programme in 2015.

The government says it will increase spending to £5.6m over the following six-year period.

Flooded farmland near Staplehurst
Flooded farmland near Staplehurst

The National Audit Office data visualisation chart can be seen here.

Read more: All the latest news from Kent

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