Public opinion against building in flood prone areas if homes at risk.

The ABI has marked the first anniversary of last summer’s floods by warning the government that 500,000 properties could be uninsurable if better protection against flooding is not provided.

The ABI was due to use its flood conference, held yesterday at the Queen Elizabeth II Centre, to release a survey that showed widespread public concern over government plans to build new homes in flood-risk areas.

The survey, based on interviews with 1,000 adults in areas affected by the 2007 floods and an additional 1,000 adults elsewhere in the UK, found that three quarters of people believe the government’s target of three million new homes by 2020 should be reduced if it would lead to more homes at risk of flooding.

It also showed that 90% would like to see a recognised standard or kite mark to show that new homes are built to flood-resilient standards.

Nick Starling, the ABI’s director of general insurance and health, said: “Insurers will have paid out £3bn following the floods last summer. But, like us, our customers share our concerns for the future.

“These findings reinforce our call for a long-term flood management strategy. In particular we must tackle the problem of surface water drainage. Planning for the future is essential if we are to minimise a repeat of last year’s terrible floods, and to ensure that flood insurance protection remains widely available.”

Findings also revealed that 91% of those in areas badly hit last summer, and 92% of the general public agree that the ABI should step up its pressure on the government to manage the problem better.

The majority of people affected by the floods, and the general public, said that the government should pay for better flood defences and management. Improvement to the UK’s drainage system was seen as the most important first step to tackle flooding, but tougher controls on where new homes are built, and more government spending were also considered essential.

The survey also ranked the insurance industry’s response to last year’s flooding as better than local authorities, the Environment Agency and government.