Flood risk management plans (FRMPs): how to prepare them

Guidance for the Environment Agency and lead local flood authorities to prepare FRMPs.

A strategic approach

FRMPs are plans to manage the risk of flooding for:

  • people
  • the economy
  • the environment, including cultural heritage

FRMPs must be consistent with the National Flood and Coastal Erosion Risk Management (FCERM) Strategy for England.

They must:

  • focus on communities and partnership working
  • co-ordinate across catchments and coastlines
  • consider sustainability issues
  • take a proportional, risk-based approach
  • look to achieve multiple benefits for the environment and society
  • encourage beneficiaries to invest in flood risk management

Risk management authorities (RMAs) should also think strategically about how:

  • geography, land use and the water environment work and interact across river catchments and the coast
  • drainage systems respond to different flooding episodes
  • natural environmental features, such as floodplain meadows, contribute to managing risk
  • the potential impacts of climate change may affect future flood risk

This will help to:

  • understand the combined effects of flooding from different sources
  • co-ordinate with broader water management issues, such as river basin management planning
  • show how FRMPs can contribute to the catchment based approach in England

Strategic environmental assessment (SEA)

RMAs must consider whether they need to carry out a strategic environmental assessment (SEA). SEAs ensure RMAs consider the wider environmental effects when they develop their FRMP. Legislation sets out the requirements for a SEA. This includes the need to publicise and consult on the proposed scope of a SEA.

What a FRMP must include

See the EU Floods Directive and Flood Risk Regulations 2009 which set out in detail what a FRMP must include.

In summary, a FRMP must include:

  • a map showing the boundaries of the flood risk area(s)
  • the conclusions drawn from the flood hazard and risk maps
  • objectives to manage the identified risk of flooding
  • the proposed measures to achieve those objectives
  • the proposed timing and ways to implement the measures,
  • who is responsible for implementing the measures

Setting objectives to manage flood risk

RMAs must define risk management objectives in the FRMP.

The objectives should be consistent with the National FCERM Strategy for England and should cover:

  • risk to life, residential properties, services and infrastructure, vulnerable communities, and any other relevant aspects (social objectives)
  • biodiversity, geology and soils, geomorphology / hydromorphology, water quality, historic environment, and any other relevant aspects (environmental objectives)
  • agricultural economy, commercial properties, leisure and tourism, and any other relevant aspects (economic objectives)

Measures to achieve the objectives

FRMPs must include measures to achieve the objectives.

RMAs should work with each other, communities and regional flood and coastal committees (RFCCs) to develop the measures. They must prioritise the measures by risks, opportunities, costs and benefits, and any other relevant factors

A FRMP does not guarantee that specific measures will be achieved but it should:

  • support established prioritisation and investment processes
  • show how these measures achieve sustainable flood risk management across the whole catchment
  • effectively manage natural resources

The prioritised measures should inform investment decisions, but those decisions are separate to the FRMPs.

Co-ordinating FRMPs with river basin management plans (RBMPs)

FRMPs must work with with RBMPs. In particular they need to:

  • ensure that proposed measures do not cause deterioration or harm in water bodies
  • ensure that proposed measures do not prevent future improvement, for example, restoration
  • identify opportunities to meet Water Framework Directive objectives and improve ecological status

It may not be possible to prevent deterioration in the status/potential of a waterbody - this would be an exception. In these cases, RMAs need to satisfy the conditions set out in Article 4.7 of the Water Framework Directive.

Consulting other organisations and the public

RMAs must consult with all relevant bodies listed under section 36(3) of the Flood Risk Regulations 2009 and the public on the FRMP. The Environment Agency must also consult RFCCs.

Each FRMP must include a description of the consultation carried out during its development.

Working with Scotland and Wales

Not all river basin districts (RBDs) lie entirely within England. The Dee RBD and the Severn RBD lie partly in Wales. The Northumbria RBD and the Solway Tweed RBD lie partly in Scotland.

RMAs must work closely with their counterparts in Scotland and Wales when preparing FRMPs for cross-border RBDs. This is to ensure that:

  • the causes and effects of flooding are understood
  • any proposed cross-border interactions are mutually agreed by both sides

The Flood Risk (Cross Border Areas) Regulations 2010 set out the requirements for working together in cross-border areas in England and Scotland.

The Environment Agency and Natural Resources Wales must act jointly when carrying out their respective responsibilities for FRMPs for the Severn and Dee RBDs.

Contact us

Environment Agency

Tel: 03708 506 506 (Mon-Fri 8am to 6pm)


Published 1 May 2014
Last updated 28 June 2019 + show all updates
  1. Consolidated and simplified guidance for the Environment Agency and LLFAs as preparation of FRMPs is no longer a new responsibility but an established activity.

  2. A mock up of a draft FRMP for river basin districts entirely in England and for river basin districts covering both England and Wales has been added to the page.

  3. The FRMP scoping reports have been published. Text updated to reflect this and link to the FCRM scoping reports collection added.

  4. First published.