Guidance

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

Guidance to help the Environment Agency, Natural Resources Wales and lead local flood authorities complete flood risk management plans.

Certain lead local flood authorities (LLFAs) have a legal duty to prepare flood risk management plans (FRMPs). This document provides guidance for these authorities. If you are producing FRMPs, by law the contents must follow this guidance.

There is more general information about what FRMPs are and who are responsible for them.

A mock up of a draft FRMP for river basin districts entirely in England (PDF, 2.58MB, 58 pages) and a mock up of a draft FRMP for river basin districts covering both England and Wales (PDF, 2.25MB, 66 pages) are also available.

FRMPs: delivering flood and coastal erosion risk management objectives

FRMPs must focus on the reduction of potential adverse consequences of flooding for human health, the environment, cultural heritage and economic activity. FRMPs are also required to look at reducing the likelihood of flooding, through, for example, structural initiatives.

Risk management authorities (RMAs) need to consider the aims and objectives of the National Flood and Coastal Erosion Risk Management (FCERM) Strategies in England and Wales.

Those RMAs developing FRMPs must do so in a way that is consistent with the National FCERM Strategies by:

  • focusing on communities and working in partnership
  • co-ordinating across Water Framework Directive management catchments (PDF, 248KB, 1 page) and coastlines
  • considering sustainability issues
  • taking a proportional, risk-based approach
  • seeking to deliver multiple benefits
  • encouraging beneficiaries to contribute to invest in flood risk management

FRMPs: scoping reports

The FRMP scoping reports set out the scope of the strategic environmental assessment (SEA). They also set out what sources of flood risk will be included in the FRMP and what consultation will be undertaken, and when.

The Environment Agency (EA) and Natural Resources Wales (NRW) worked with LLFAs to set out the scope of the FRMPs. A FRMP scoping report has been produced for each river basin district.

FRMPs: what needs to be included

Information that must be included in a FRMP is set out in the EU Floods Directive and Flood Risk Regulations 2009 as amended by Flood Risk (Cross Border Areas) Regulations 2010.

In summary, flood risk management plans must include:

  • a map showing the boundaries of the Flood Risk Area
  • the conclusions drawn from the flood hazard and risk maps published under Regulation 22 of the Flood Risk Regulations 2009.
  • objectives for the purpose of managing the flood risk
  • proposed measures for achieving those objectives
  • a description of the proposed timing and manner of implementing the measures including details of who is responsible for implementation
  • a description of the way implementation of the measures will be monitored
  • a report of the consultation
  • where appropriate, information about how the implementation of measures under the FRMP and river basin management plans (RBMP) for the area will be co-ordinated

FRMPs: information needed

RMAs developing FRMPs should identify flood risks as well as any opportunities to deliver wider sustainable benefits.

FRMPs: drawing conclusions from flood hazard and flood risk maps

In developing their conclusions, RMAs developing FRMPs should consider:

  • all flood risk sources, and whether multiple flood sources might interact
  • flood risk, in terms of sources, pathways and receptors, and flow routes
  • flood risk, in terms of historic flooding and the probability and consequence of flooding - for example, which properties, services or environmental resources are at risk, and what the likely flood probability and impact severity of these might be

RMAs developing FRMPs will want to consider how the situation is changing over time - for example, if a Natura 2000 site is deteriorating and whether the contaminated flood water is making it worse. RMAs developing FRMPs may also want to consider the potential implications of climate change and, also, whether there are opportunities to manage water more sustainably, such as creating wetlands and managing floodplains as an alternative to defences.

This applies for joint partnership FRMPs and also for separate FRMPs covering local sources of flooding for Flood Risk Areas. In the latter case, conclusions must consider the whole Flood Risk Area identified in the separate FRMP.

FRMPs: information needed for ‘objectives for managing flood risk’

RMAs developing FRMPs need to define risk management objectives. These should follow on from the conclusions so that stakeholders can appreciate the logical journey from ‘risk’ or ‘opportunity’ to ‘objectives’.

Objectives should be considered as part of the overall aims and objectives of the National FCERM Strategies in England and Wales. Working in partnership with other RMAs and through consultation with interested parties, the Environment Agency and Natural Resources Wales will determine objectives for each river basin district for flooding from rivers, the sea and reservoirs.

LLFAs will do the same in determining objectives for Flood Risk Areas for flooding from local sources.

Where more specific objectives are developed for places, these should refer to:

  • the source of risk (including all sources of flooding and coastal erosion, if relevant)
  • the probability and consequences of the risk
  • the type of receptors affected and the scale of the effect
  • the nature of change, or a target to be achieved, for example through reductions or improvements

RMAs developing FRMPs should establish each objective in the context of:

  • social objectives: risk to life, residential properties, services and infrastructure, vulnerable communities, and any other relevant aspects

  • environmental objectives: biodiversity, geology and soils, geomorphology / hydromorphology, water quality, historic environment, and any other relevant aspects

  • economic objectives: agricultural economy, commercial properties, leisure and tourism, and any other relevant aspects

To develop their objectives, RMAs developing FRMPs should consider the same issues they used to arrive at their conclusions from the flood hazard and risk maps published under the Flood Risk Regulations, plus any potential to:

  • improve environmental quality, for example by contributing to the objectives of the Water Framework Directive (especially, re-naturalising water bodies, reducing diffuse pollution and eradicating invasive species)

  • improve biodiversity, particularly the extent and quality of wetlands

  • improve how flood and coastal erosion risk management works with natural process, in particular through attenuation of flows (for example through tree planting) and reducing wave energy (for example through salt marsh creation)

  • support objectives from other policies, plans and programmes (the SEA will help identify those that relate to people and the environment)

For separate FRMPs covering local sources of flooding for Flood Risk Areas, the requirement is the same.

FRMPs: information needed for ‘measures for achieving objectives’

The Floods Directive describes risk management measures as: protection, preparedness, prevention, recovery and review. Each measure must also be categorised according to the coded list in the EU Reporting Scheme. For each river basin district this will be reported to the European Commission. There’s more information about EC reporting measures (PDF, 158KB, 1 page) .

FRMP measures should be prioritised in the context of risks, opportunities, costs and benefits, and any other relevant factors. While FRMP development does not guarantee the delivery of specific measures, it should:

  • support established prioritisation and investment processes

  • show how these measures deliver sustainable flood risk management across the whole catchment.

  • effectively manage natural resources

RMAs developing FRMPs should work together and with communities to provide Regional Flood and Coastal Committees (RFCCs) with proposed measures for delivery across committee areas. The prioritisation of these measures within FRMPs should inform investment decisions, but the decisions themselves are separate from FRMPs.

The following information must be included with the FRMP measures. Some of this will also be reported to the European Commission.

Implementation phase

Measures should be categorised as one of the following:

  • ongoing measures: those already being implemented
  • agreed measures: those that have, or are likely to have, funding in place, or measures that have been consulted on previously and agreed (eg as part of a local flood risk management (FRM) strategy)
  • proposed measures: new measures or changes to ongoing/agreed measures (for example innovative solutions to recent flooding).

Estimated economic costs and benefits

Every measure must be categorised using these criteria:

Estimated cost

  • less than £100 000
  • £100 000 to £500 000
  • £500 000 to £1 million
  • £1 million to £5 million
  • £5 million to £10 million
  • more than £10 million

Estimated benefits

Using ratio of potential benefit to cost as an indicator

  • less than 1
  • 1 to 2
  • 2 to 4
  • 4 to 6
  • more than 6

Measure priority

  • critical
  • very high
  • high
  • moderate
  • low

Implementation timing

  • cycle 1: 2015 to 2021
  • cycle 2: 2021 to 2027
  • cycle 3: 2027 to 2033
  • cycle 4: 2033 to 2039
  • after 2039

Lead organisation:

  • named RMAs
  • other organisations (eg Natural England)

FRMPs: bringing information together

Each FRMP should bring all relevant information together. This should draw on information from published sources, on-going planning work or recent flood incidents.

Information for flooding from main rivers

Catchment flood management plans (CFMPs) contain useful information about how the catchment works, previous flooding and the sensitivity of the river system to increased rainfall. EA and NRW may draw on the evidence and previous proposals set out in CFMPs to develop FRMPs. Other sources of information include:

  • investment plan proposals (eg the Medium Term Plan in England)
  • measures undertaken by third parties (eg emergency response plans)
  • new measures identified as part of any ongoing planning work (eg community action plans)
  • flood risk management strategies developed for specific areas

Information for flooding from the sea

Local authorities, the EA and NRW are responsible for compiling shoreline management plans) (SMPs) for England and Wales. When drawn from these plans, policies and actions should not be changed outside the Shoreline Management Plan Change Process. Other sources of information include:

  • measures in the Medium Term Plan (eg from estuary strategies)
  • measures progressed by third parties
  • measures identified in ongoing planning work
  • information on coastal erosion risk management from coastal groups

Information for flooding from reservoirs

EA and NRW are responsible for covering flooding from reservoirs when compiling FRMPs for England and Wales.

Reservoir measures are likely to include establishing an on-site reservoir plan (the responsibility of the reservoir operator or owner) or an off-site reservoir plan (the responsibility of the Local Resilience Forum).

Information for flooding from surface water, groundwater and ordinary watercourses

In preparing their FRMPs, LLFAs should use information from their local flood risk management strategies (LFRMS) and/or surface water management plans. They should consider whether this gives them the opportunity to refresh their LFRMS with information from the latest flood hazard and flood risk maps or other information which has become available since their development.

Other sources of information include:

  • surface water management plans
  • relevant proposals included in the Medium Term Plan in England
  • measures progressed by third parties
  • new measures identified as part of ongoing planning work

Strategic thinking

Individuals developing FRMPs should think strategically about how the processes in the catchment and coastline work and interact, how drainage systems respond to different flooding episodes, and how natural processes operate.

This should help improve co-ordination for the various sources of flooding and understanding of in-combination effects and broader water management issues such as river basin management planning and how RMAs developing FRMPs can contribute to the catchment based approach in England.

In Wales, this is the Natural Resource Management approach.

Much of this strategic thinking has been shared in previous studies and reports, including CFMPs, SMPs, LFRMS, RBMPs and water cycles strategies. It supports the aims and objectives of the National FCERM Strategies in England and Wales.

Meeting wider environmental requirements

RMAs developing FRMPs must do so in a way that is co-ordinated with river basin management plans (RBMPs). In particular they need to:

  • ensure that proposed measures do not cause deterioration in water bodies (preventing harm)
  • ensure that proposed measures do not prevent future improvement (eg restoration)
  • identify improvement opportunities to meet Water Framework Directive objectives and improve ecological status (taking positive action)

Exceptionally, there may be situations where it is not possible to prevent deterioration in the status/potential of a waterbody. Here, the RMA needs to satisfy the conditions set out in Article 4.7 of the Water Framework Directive.

RMAs developing FRMPs must also consider whether they need to carry out a strategic environmental assessment, or a Habitats Regulations Assessment. Where LLFAs have a duty to prepare a FRMP it is their responsibility to ensure they fulfil their SEA requirements (whether they are contributing to a joint FRMP or preparing a separate FRMP).

Where LLFAs are contributing to a FRMP on a voluntary basis they do not need to carry out an SEA. LLFAs will also need to ensure they fulfil any requirements for Habitats Regulations Assessment, irrespective of the nature of the FRMPs they prepare (whether joint, separate or voluntary).

Managing and sharing information

The FRMP database is designed to promote partnership working and sharing of specialist risk management information. It captures risk conclusions, objectives and measures. The database helps RMAs developing FRMPs to share joint objectives, identify priority outcomes and agree the right measures to manage risk from all sources of flooding. The database has been designed to report the right information from FRMPs to the European Commission.

You can use the database even if you are not located in a Flood Risk Area. This means that all LLFAs and other RMAs developing FRMPs can benefit from sharing information.

English RMAs can register on the FRMP database website. They can then access the database by sending their email address and organisation name to their local contact in the Environment Agency’s Partnership and Strategic Overview Team.

Welsh RMAs should email enquiries@naturalresourceswales.gov.uk or telephone 0300 065 3000

Consulting with other organisations and the public

Prior to publishing the scoping report, the Environment Agency and Natural Resources Wales will consult the statutory environmental bodies on the scope of the strategic environmental assessment.

RMAs developing FRMPs must consult all relevant bodies listed under section 36(3) of the Flood Risk Regulations 2009 and the public. Their FRMPs should also state what consultation has been done and which plans have been used to determine objectives and measures.

EA and NRW must also consult Regional Flood and Coastal Committees (RFCCs) for their FRMPs and when reviewing FRMPs prepared by LLFAs. More generally, RMAs developing FRMPs should do so in consultation with RFCCs.

Authorities are responsible for their own FRMP approvals (PDF, 103KB, 2 pages) and appropriate arrangements will need to be made for joint FRMPs.

Timetable

June 2014 – EA and NRW publish FRMP Scoping Reports for each river basin district

September to December 2014 – joint consultation on joint draft FRMPs for river basin districts. This consultation will be extended for the English part of the draft Solway-Tweed FRMP. Note: LLFAs doing separate FRMPs will also need to ensure appropriate consultation has been undertaken

22 June 2015 – LLFAs submit FRMPs to the Environment Agency and Natural Resources Wales for review

21 December 2015 – EA and NRW publish final joint FRMPs for river basin districts and separate FRMPs for Flood Risk Areas

22 March 2016 – EA and NRW report all required information to the European Commission

Developing cross-border FRMPs

Cross-border areas of England and Scotland (the Solway-Tweed and Northumbria river basin districts)

Where this guidance is issued in relation to English cross border areas (PDF, 175KB, 1 page) it is done so by EA and Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) acting jointly.

When developing FRMPs that straddle England and Scotland, causes and effects should be understood and any proposed cross-border interactions understood and mutually agreed by both sides.

Scotland’s statutory consultation bodies for strategic environmental assessment must also be consulted on the scope of the proposed strategic environmental assessment, and the draft FRMP and Environmental Report.

In the English cross border areas (PDF, 175KB, 1 page) EA and SEPA will jointly carry out the following functions for the cross-border area:

  • consultation on the proposed content of the FRMP
  • the issuing of guidance about the form of FRMPs

In addition, authorities preparing FRMPs must have regard to:

  • the impact on flood risk in the English cross-border area of actions and inactions in an adjacent Scottish cross border area
  • the impact on flood risk in an adjacent Scottish cross-border area of actions and inactions in the English cross border area
  • documents produced under Part 3 of the Flood Risk Management (Scotland) Act 2009 in relation to an adjacent Scottish cross-border area
  • the advice given by the Cross-Border Advisory Group under relevant regulations

The Cross-Border Advisory Group (CBAG) was established under the Flood Risk (Cross Border Areas) Regulations 2010. It should be consulted when developing FRMPs that cover cross border areas (PDF, 175KB, 1 page) .

In publishing FRMPs in respect to the English cross-border areas of the Solway-Tweed River Basin District, the Environment Agency will also publish plans produced by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency under section 27 of the Flood Risk Management (Scotland) Act 2009 for an adjacent Scottish cross border areas (PDF, 175KB, 1 page) .

Cross-border areas of England and Wales (The Severn and Dee River Basin Districts)

When developing FRMPs that straddle England and Wales, causes and effects should be understood and any proposed cross-border interactions mutually agreed by both sides.

EA and NRW must act jointly when carrying out their functions with respect to the Severn and Dee River Basin Districts.

This guidance is published by

  • EA, in relation to England
  • NRW, in relation to Wales
  • EA and NRW jointly, in relation to the English/Welsh cross border river basin districts
  • EA and SEPA jointly, in relation to the English and Scottish cross border areas

Contact us

EA

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

Email enquiries@environment-agency.gov.uk or visit EA website

Cyfoeth Naturiol Cymru / NRW

Tel: 0300 065 3000 (Mon-Fri, 8am to 6pm)

Email enquiries@naturalresourceswales.gov.uk or visit the Natural Resources Wales website

SEPA

Tel. 01786 457 700 (Mon-Fri 9am to 5pm)

Email or visit the Scottish Environment Protection Agency website

Published 1 May 2014
Last updated 8 October 2014 + show all updates
  1. 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.
  2. The FRMP scoping reports have been published. Text updated to reflect this and link to the FCRM scoping reports collection added.
  3. First published.