Flooding from rivers and coastal waters is a natural process that plays an important role in shaping the natural environment.
However, as seen during the summer of 2007 and again in 2009, flooding can threaten life and cause substantial damage to property. The effects of weather events can be increased in severity both as a consequence of decisions about the location, design and nature of development and land use, and as a potential consequence of future climate change. Although flooding cannot be controlled entirely, its impacts can be avoided and reduced through good planning and management.
Local Planning Authorities (LPAs) in England and Wales have to consult us on development proposals at risk from flooding before they make a decision.
In England, the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) has replaced Planning Policy Statement 25 'Development and Flood Risk'. However, the policy principles remain unchanged, supporting Technical Guidance has been issued and the associated Practice Guide remains in place until Government chooses to replace it.
In Wales, Planning Policy Wales and the associated Technical Advice Note 15 Development and Flood Risk (TAN15) set out Government policy on the subject. The NPPF will not apply in Wales.
We provide technical advice to LPAs and developers on how best to avoid, manage and reduce the adverse impacts of flooding.
When advising on spatial plans and sustainability appraisals, we aim to help ensure they are 'sound' by encouraging decision-makers to:
- cooperate across boundaries because flood risk often requires wider than local consideration. Local Authorities, the Environment Agency and other prescribed bodies are obliged to work together on certain strategic matters under the ‘duty to cooperate’ in the Localism Act in England.
- In Wales, government guidance stresses the importance of consultation and collaboration between authorities and other organisations
- carry out strategic assessments of flood risk as part of sustainability appraisal and to ensure that Local Plans are based on a robust evidence base
- include suitable flood risk objectives and indicators
- steer new development to lower risk locations that are appropriate to the proposed use (the sequential test), ensure it is safe, does not increase risks elsewhere and where possible reduces risks overall (the exception text), in England. The equivalent in Wales is the justification test
- reduce flood risk by making space for water
- use regeneration to help relocate development to lower risk locations when climate change is expected to mean that some existing development may not be sustainable in the long-term
- include policies that reflect the National Planning Policy Framework and in Wales the aims of TAN15.
We may object to planning applications if the proposed development is not consistent with Government Planning Policy, including:
- lack of evidence that the sequential test and (where needed) and the exception test have been applied correctly (England) and justification test (Wales).
- it is not supported by an adequate flood risk assessment (England) or flood consequences assessment (Wales)
- the flood risk/ consequences assessment does not demonstrate that the development and its occupants/users will be safe for the lifetime of the development, does not increase flood risk elsewhere and does not seek to reduce risk overall
Normally, the LPA is the final decision-maker, but if it intends to grant permission for a major development against our sustained objection, it has to notify the Secretary of State in England who may decide to 'call-in' the application for determination. The Welsh Government has recently consulted on proposals to make this case for Wales.
Planning Policy Statement 25 Flood Management through spatial planning (PDF, 288KB)
Overview of working with the Environment Agency when following PPS25. This document will be reviewed to reflect the NPPF. Although it refers to PPS25, the advice on our statutory consultee status, the call-in Direction, flood risk assessment and sequential test remains valid.