No water risk details in home information packs

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The Independent Online

Ministers faced renewed criticism over the flooding crisis after it emerged that controversial new home information packs will not include details about the flood risk to properties.

Conservatives said that the scheme was "utterly untrustworthy and misleading" because new figures showed that one in ten new houses had been built on flood plains.

The troubled Home Information Packs become compulsory for people selling houses with four or more bedrooms from tomorrow.

But the Conservatives said that ministers had failed to act on warnings that the packs did too little to warn homebuyers about risks from environmental threats.

A parliamentary written answer published as the Commons closed for the summer revealed that 10 per cent of new homes built in 2004 were in flood-risk areas, with provisional figures for 2005 showing that 9 per cent were at risk from floodwaters.

Grant Shapps, the shadow Housing minister, warned that sellers were unlikely to include flood risk information in selling packs if it was not compulsory.

The Department for Communities and Local Government insisted that information on flood risks was already widely available on the Environment Agency website.

The dispute over the packs came as the chairman of the Environment Agency, Sir John Harman, defended bonuses paid to senior staff, despite renewed calls from Conservatives and Liberal Democrats for the cash to be paid back.

The agency's chief executive, Baroness Young of Old Scone, received a 15 per cent bonus of £24,000, while eight other executives, including the director of water management, received awards averaging 10 per cent of their salaries.