Infrastructure Minister John O’Dowd has called for all stakeholders to continue to prevent inappropriate new development in areas known to be at risk of flooding and to work together to help combat the impacts of climate change.
The Minister believes that collaborative working is key to future proof future developments by adopting a precautionary approach to development and the use of land that takes full account of the latest information on flood risk. This is to help ensure that building is not in locations at risk of future flooding.
The Minister said:
“The extreme weather events being experienced here and around the world are a stark wake up call to the climate crisis and the urgency of acting now to protect the public and the environment. Climate change has increased the risk of flooding in the North. More frequent and extreme weather events are to be expected. I believe, therefore, that it is vital that we redouble our efforts to reduce the risks and impacts of flooding.
“The most effective method of managing flood risk for the public is to prevent development in unsuitable locations in the first place and our planning system has an important role to play in this regard. Indeed the Department’s Regional Development Strategy 2035 (RDS) and the Strategic Planning Policy Statement (SPPS) provide key guiding principles for sustainable development and both recognise the need to mitigate and adapt to climate change. Both the SPPS and Revised Planning Policy Statement 15 provides that, in all but the most exceptional circumstances, new development is not located within the flood plains of rivers or the sea where it may be at risk, or increase the risk of flooding in the locality.
“The planning system, therefore, has a key role to play in preventing or restricting development in such flood prone areas informed by the expert advice of statutory consultees. When consulted, my Department will continue to provide advice and information in order to assist planning authorities in their responsibilities for plan making and decision taking. As planning authorities now bring forward new local development plans for their areas for the next 15 years, this Department will continue to provide advice on drainage and flood risk aspects to assist councils in their plan preparation and to ensure that going forward, development continues to be supported in the right locations in the context of sustainable development and the increasing impacts of climate change which we will face.”
The Department’s flood maps can be accessed by developers and the public and are obtainable via the following link www.infrastructure-ni.gov.uk/topics/rivers-and-flooding/flood-maps-ni
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