1st Cycle - Supporting information and Guidance relating to the European Floods Directive

Supporting information and guidance relating to the European Floods Directive that should be read in conjunction with the main European Floods Directive content.

Your questions answered

What is the Floods Directive?

It is a European Directive which provides a consistent approach to the assessment and management of flood risk across the European Community.

How will the Floods Directive benefit society?

As flooding can have devastating impacts, protecting the needs of the community is at the heart of the Floods Directive approach. It aims to manage the adverse consequences that flooding has on all of the following:

  • human health
  • the environment
  • cultural heritage
  • economic activity

Who is responsible for implementing the Floods Directive in Northern Ireland?

DfI Rivers is taking the lead in implementing the Directive in Northern Ireland in partnership with a number of other statutory authorities including – Northern Ireland Water, DfI Roads, Planning NI, local councils.

What are the main requirements of the Floods Directive?

The Floods Directive will be delivered in three stages, the 3rd of which has just been completed:

  • undertake a preliminary flood risk assessment which will assist in the identification of Significant Flood Risk Areas (SFRAs)
  • produce flood hazard and flood risk maps for the significant areas
  • produce flood risk management plans which will contain objectives and measures to manage flood risk in SFRAs

Has the public be given an opportunity to get involved?

Yes. There have been opportunities for active public participation during the 3rd stage when we have been preparing the Flood Risk Management Plans. We held community information days where the public could learn more about the Directive, discuss proposals for their area, and provide input and feedback to assist in the drafting of the Plans. A Public Consultation was undertaken between December 2014 and June 2015 and comments provided were taken into account in producing the final Plans.

At all stages the public have been kept informed of work and progress being made via this website. This consultation will continue during the 2nd cycle of flood risk management planning.

What is the preliminary flood risk assessment (PFRA) mentioned at stage one?

The PFRA is a strategic assessment of flood risk. It looks at historical flood events as well as the potential for future flooding from all significant sources which for Northern Ireland are rivers, the sea, surface water and impoundments (reservoirs, dams and large ponds).

The assessment also examined the adverse consequences that flooding has on human health, the environment, cultural heritage and economic activity.

What are the outcomes of PFRA?

Based on the information obtained within the PFRA, DfI Rivers developed a methodology to determine areas which would be subject to more detailed Flood Risk Analysis and planning. 

Does the PFRA show if my specific property is at risk?

No. The PFRA indicates the general areas in Northern Ireland that may be prone to flooding. It does not determine the flood risk to particular properties or specific point locations.

If the PFRA shows that my property is not in an area shown to be at significant risk, can I assume that my property will not flood?

No. The PFRA identifies those areas which have the most significant flood risk. There will be many other areas which may be susceptible to flooding but the risk is not considered significant. Under the PFRA process these areas may be dealt with under other routine business, subject to a cost benefit assessment.

What happens after the areas of significant flood risk have been identified?

Having identified the significant flood risk areas, we produced flood hazard and flood risk maps (Stage two). These have influenced the development of Flood Risk Management Plans (FRMPs).

What are the Flood Risk Management Plans (FRMPs) mentioned at stage three?

FRMPs contain objectives and measures to manage flood risk in significant flood risk areas.

What is the timescale for implementing the recommendations that the FRMPs propose?

Each FRMP provides information about measures to address flood risks in the River Basin District covered by the Plan and about implementing those measures.

Each FRMP will be reviewed every 6 years when an assessment will be undertaken of the progress made towards the achievement of the objectives and measures included in the Plan.

The first FRMP has been produced by December 2015 and so will be reviewed by 2021.

Glossary of terms


The area drained, either naturally or with artificial assistance, by a watercourse, including all drainage channels, tributaries, floodplains, estuaries and areas of water storage.


A network of pipes which carry our drainage system underground


The temporary covering by water, from any source, of land not normally covered by water but does not include a flood solely from a sewerage system.

Flood plain

The generally flat areas adjacent to a watercourse or the sea where water flows in time of flood or would flow but for the presence of flood defences. The limits of a flood plain are defined by the peak water level of an appropriate return period event.

Flood risk

Flood risk is a measure of the impact of flooding and likelihood that it will occur.

International River Basin District

A river basin / catchment which crosses over into the Republic of Ireland.

Local study area

Area identified as being at significant flood risk and subject to a detailed flood risk analysis.

Preliminary flood risk assessment

An assessment which identifies areas in Northern Ireland where flood risk is most significant.

River Basin District

The area drained, either naturally or with artificial assistance, by a watercourse, including all drainage channels, tributaries, floodplains, estuaries and areas of water storage.

Screens and grilles

These stop material from entering our culvert network.

Significant flood risk

Significant flood risk is determined by detailed analysis.

Significant Flood Risk Area

Area identified as being at significant flood risk and subject to further mapping and consideration.

Surface water flooding

Surface water occurs as a result of high intensity rainfall which overwhelms natural or engineered drainage systems, resulting in water flowing overland and ponding in depressions in the ground.

Water Framework Directive

The European Water Framework Directive is a wide-ranging piece of legislation covering all water bodies including rivers, lakes, estuaries, coastal waters and ground waters. It was established in law in Northern Ireland in 2003 through the Water Environment (WFD) Regulations (Northern Ireland) (SR 2003 No. 544).


A stream, river, canal, ditch, drain, cut, culvert, dyke, sluice, valve, overland carrier, millrace or layde. Water mains and sewers are not included in this definition.

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