Policy paper

Flood risk planning cycles

How the Environment Agency and lead local flood authorities manage flood risk by following a 6 year cycle of planning.

Applies to England, Scotland and Wales



The Environment Agency is responsible for managing flood risk from:

  • main rivers
  • the sea
  • reservoirs

Lead local flood authorities are responsible for local sources of flood risk, in particular:

  • surface water
  • groundwater
  • ordinary watercourses

To manage flood risk both the Environment Agency and lead local flood authorities must follow a 6 year cycle of planning. The planning stages are:

  • complete a preliminary flood risk assessment and identify flood risk areas
  • prepare flood risk maps and flood hazard maps for rivers, the sea, surface water and reservoirs
  • prepare flood risk management plans (FRMPs)

Each stage is completed for all river basin districts in each cycle.

Additional information

Read the Flood Risk Regulations 2009.

Published 22 December 2011
Last updated 18 May 2022 + show all updates
  1. Amended FRMPs consultation wording at the publication of the summary of responses document and publication of the individual responses.

  2. Amended FRMP consultation wording at the close of consultation on 21 January 2022, with information about reviewing the responses

  3. Added that flood risk management plans (FRMPs) must be reviewed by the Environment Agency and lead local flood authorities every 6 years. Provided information and link to the draft FRMPs 2021 to 2027 consultation. Removed reference to the European Floods Directive.

  4. Links added to the PFRAs for Severn River Basin District that are partly in England. The second cycle of flood risk managing plans are being produced and a public consultation will take place in autumn 2021.

  5. Link to the flood risk maps 2019 added. The description of the flood risk in flood risk areas has been corrected to ‘We identified flood risk areas through our preliminary flood risk assessment published in 2018. They show the potential risk of flooding from rivers and the sea, and surface water’. The word significant has been removed as it may give the impression that there is significant risk across the whole flood risk area which is not the case.

  6. The Environment Agency has published its preliminary flood risk assessment (PFRA) for England and has collaborated with Natural Resources Wales to publish PFRAs for the Severn and Dee River Basin Districts.

  7. Preliminary flood risk assessments (PFRAs) have been reviewed and updated in 2017 by the lead local flood authorities (LLFAs)

  8. Updated to include information about the planning cycle from 2016 to 2021.

  9. First published.