What is the European Floods Directive?

Protecting the community from the risk and impact of flooding is at the heart of the European Floods Directive (2007/60/EC). Introduced in 2009, the Floods Directive provides a new approach to managing flood risk on a catchment wide scale.

Distinct preparatory stages

The Directive requires 3 distinct preparatory stages:-

1. Article 4 of the Directive required that each member state undertook a Preliminary Flood Risk Assessment (PFRA) for their respective territories by 22 December 2011. The PFRA for Northern Ireland (NI) can be accessed via this link:-

Under the Directive, we have identified 20 areas in NI which have the most significant flood risk, known as Significant Flood Risk Areas (SFRAs). These areas have been the focus for more detailed planning and mapping. 

2. Article 6 of the Directive required that each member state should prepare Flood Hazard and Flood Risk maps for significant risk areas by December 2013. These have been prepared for NI and can be accessed via this link:-

3. Article 7 of the Directive required each member state to prepare Flood Risk Management Plans by December 2015. The Flood Risk Management Plans highlight the flood hazards and risks in the 20 most Significant Flood Risk Areas in NI from flooding from rivers, the sea, surface water and reservoirs. They identify the measures that will be undertaken over the next 6 years to address flooding and they set out how the relevant authorities will work together with communities to reduce the flood risks.

The publication of the Flood Risk Management Plans marks the start of the implementation phase of the first cycle of Plans. The 2nd Planning cycle will commence with a new PFRA by December 2017, updated Flood Hazard and Flood Risk maps by December 2019 leading eventually to a 2nd generation of Flood Risk Management Plans by December 2021.

European Floods Directive - the legislation

Floods Directive (NI legislation)

Floods Directive (European legislation)

Other legislation and polices relevant to flood risk

Water Framework Directive (NI legislation)

This is a sister directive being delivered by the Northern Ireland Environment Agency. The Directive works to protect and restore clean water across Europe and ensure its long-term sustainable use.

Strategic Framework Directive (EU legislation)

The Floods Directive legislation was subject to a SEA. This means that we took environmental considerations into account when preparing the legislation.

Planning Policy Statement 15 (PPS 15)

The Department of the Environment's PPS 15 aims to prevent future development that may be at risk from flooding or that may increase the risk of flooding elsewhere. In relation to land use planning, this policy also summarises the drainage and flood regulation roles and responsibilities of The Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (Rivers Agency), the Department of Regional Development (NI Water and Roads Service now Transport NI) and the Department of the Environment (Planning).

Statement of principles between Government and Association of British Insurers (ABI) regarding flood insurance

DfI Rivers, working in partnership with other government departments, negotiated a joint agreement on the provision of insurance for flooding with the Association of British Insurers (ABI) in 2009.

The agreement to a Statement of Principles (SoP) ensured that flood insurance has remained as affordable and widely available as possible, so that householders and businesses could continue to be able to protect themselves from the financial consequences of flooding. The agreement committed insurers to continue to provide flood insurance on the condition that the Executive effectively managed the risk of flooding.

Similar agreements have been in place for England, Scotland and Wales.

This Statement of Principles is in the process of being replaced by a new scheme, ‘FloodRe’:-


The FloodRe scheme is a not-for-profit flood reinsurance fund, owned and managed by the insurance industry, and established to ensure that those domestic properties in the UK at the highest risk of flooding can receive affordable insurance cover for the flood element of their household property insurance.

Reinsurance is a way for insurers themselves to insure against large scale losses with other insurers. Insurers sell policies to their customers in the usual way, but then may pass the risk carried by those policies to a reinsurance company, or reinsurance vehicle – like Flood Re – where those risks are pooled into a fund which pays out to the insurer if claims are made.

In 2011, the Insurance industry formally recommended FloodRe as a long-term flood insurance solution; an outline agreement between the Government in GB and the insurance industry was reached in June 2013. In GB, subsequent Water Bill legislation and regulation has paved the way for ‘FloodRe’ to be designated as the scheme administrator of the FloodRe scheme. The FloodRe website contains more information on the scheme and can be accessed via the following link:- http://www.floodre.co.uk/

For more details you can contact us in the following ways:

DfI Rivers HQ
49 Tullywiggan Road
BT80 8SG

Tel: 028 8676 8342
Email: rivers.registry@infrastructure-ni.gov.uk  

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