The Floods Directive Regulations provided a new approach to managing flood risk on a catchment-wide scale. The associated timeline is geared to a rolling cycle so its 3 key stages must be repeated on a cyclical basis, every 6 years, to ensure that flood risk is managed effectively and that it takes account of new information, developments and changes in risk.
Distinct preparatory stages
The Floods Directive Regulations require 3 distinct preparatory stages and the dates below are applicable to the 2nd Cycle:-
1. Northern Ireland Flood Risk Assessment (2018)
Regulation 6 required that the Department undertook a review and, if necessary, completed an update of the Preliminary Flood Risk Assessment (PFRA) by 22 December 2018. The NIFRA (2018) constitutes this update and can be accessed via this link:-
In the NIFRA, we identified areas in NI which have the most significant flood risk, known as Areas of Potential Significant Flood Risk (APSFR). These areas have been the focus for more detailed flood mapping and planning in the next two stages.
2. Flood Hazard and Risk Mapping
Regulation 13 required that the Department should review and, if necessary, undertake an update of its Flood Hazard and Flood Risk Maps for the identified Areas of Potential Significant Flood Risk by December 2019. These have been prepared for NI and can be accessed via this link:-
3. Flood Risk Management Planning
Regulation 21 required the Department to review and, if necessary, update the Flood Risk Management Plans (FRMPs) by December 2021. The Flood Risk Management Plan highlights the flood hazards and risks in the Areas of Potential Significant Flood Risk in NI from flooding from rivers, the sea and surface water. It identifies the objectives and measures that will be undertaken to address flooding and it sets out how the relevant authorities will work together with communities to reduce the flood risks. The FRMP for NI can be accessed via this link:-
The publication of the Flood Risk Management Plan has marked the start of the implementation phase of the second cycle of Flood Risk Management Planning.
The Floods Directive Regulations processes are cyclical and require reviews of each stage to be carried out on a rolling 6 year cycle. The 3rd Planning cycle requires a review of the NIFRA by December 2024, Flood Hazard and Flood Risk Maps to be updated by December 2025, leading to a 3rd generation Flood Risk Management Plan by December 2027. The cycle is then to be repeated every 6 years to ensure that this planning and work to manage Flood Risks actively continues. Publications will be updated or renewed as the cyclical stages are completed.
European Floods Directive - the legislation
Floods Directive (NI legislation)
- The Water Environment (Floods Directive) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2009 (legislation.gov.uk)
Other legislation and polices relevant to flood risk
Water Framework Directive (NI legislation)
The Water Environment (Water Framework Directive) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2003 are ‘sister’ Regulations to the Floods Directive Regulations, and are being delivered by the Northern Ireland Environment Agency (part of DAERA). The Water Framework Directive Regulations work to protect and restore waterbodies - such as rivers, lakes and coastal waters around Northern Ireland, and ensure the long-term sustainable use of water. The Water Framework Directive Regulations can be accessed via this link:-
- The Water Environment (Water Framework Directive) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2003 (legislation.gov.uk)
Strategic Environmental Assessment Directive (EU legislation)
Flood Risk Management Planning under the Floods Directive Regulations has been subject to a Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA). This means that we undertook appropriate environmental assessment and consideration of the likely impacts of the Flood Risk Management Planning process. The SEA Directive has been transposed into NI law and can be accessed via this link:-
- The Environmental Assessment of Plans and Programmes Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2004 (legislation.gov.uk)
Planning Policy SPPS and Planning Policy Statement 15 (PPS 15)
Department for Infrastructure Planning under the Strategic Planning Policy Statement (SPPS) along with PPS 15 aims to prevent inappropriate development in areas that may be at risk from flooding or where development may increase the risk of flooding elsewhere. In relation to land use planning, these policies also summarise the drainage and flood regulation roles and responsibilities of DfI Rivers, DfI Roads and Northern Ireland Water. These policies can be accessed via these links:-