PLANNING FOR FLOOD RISK: THE FACTS
The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister (ODPM
when John Prescot was the postholder) already provides policy
guidance to local planning authorities that ensures the risk of flooding is
taken very seriously during the planning process. We work closely with the
Department for the Environment Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA)
and the Environment
Agency to provide sensible and
viable solutions to flood risk.
Flood defences for existing properties, the responsibility of DEFRA, combined
with protection in the planning system to prevent inappropriate new developments
on flood risk areas, the responsibility of the ODPM, are the best way to
safeguard against flooding. The current planning policy on flood risk, Planning
Policy Guidance 25: Flood Risk was published in July 2001 and already provides
significant safeguards against inappropriate new development in flood risk
This is important as around 10% of the
total land in England lies within areas of flood risk, including much of London
and York. It is unrealistic to suggest that we can halt all development in
these areas, especially if they have adequate flood defences, as this would
stunt economic development and prevent the delivery of much-needed homes
[comment: Freshford Mill
proposal does not provide much needed homes & services]
The Office of Science and Technology found that risks from flooding are
likely to increase over the next 30-100 years due to climate change. It agrees
with ODPM that sensible planning and appropriate flood defences should enable
the risks to be managed without halting necessary development.
Mill is not necessary development]
Planning for flood risk - the background
In developing new communities and regenerating existing ones, care is already
taken by local planning authorities not to place development in unsustainable
locations in terms of flood risk. All development, wherever it is in the
country, must be in line with the current planning policy, PPG25. This aims to
ensure flood risk is considered at all stages of the planning and development
process from regional plans, to local plans and individual site development.
Both regional and local plans should identify areas of flood risk, guide
development to areas at least risk and include policies to reduce the risk of
flooding and the damage that floods cause. Already, all development proposals
in flood risk areas should be accompanied by a flood risk assessment, and local
planning authorities should consult the Environment Agency.
PPG25 has succeeded in raising the
profile of flood risk in the planning process. The percentage of
applications permitted by local planning authorities against sustained
Environment Agency advice has almost halved since PPG25 was introduced.
[comment: so a half of all planning applications ignore the advice of the
Planning for flood risk – new action by ODPM
There is an obvious and continuing duty
for the Government to review the management of flood risk.
In March we made a joint announcement
with DEFRA on a wider package of proposals on flood defence and coastal
management matters to be pursued in the new Parliament. News release,
Strengtherned (sic) planning policy for flood risk areas will endure sustainable
development - Hill.
As part of this package, ODPM committed
to consult on proposals to update planning policy to provide a more strategic
approach to the management of flood risk.
Before the end of the year, we will
publish a consultation draft of Planning Policy Statement 25 “Development and
Flood Risk”, and we plan to publish the new PPS25, and a standing planning
Direction on flooding, if it is supported by the consultation responses, in mid
The consultation draft of PPS25 will
emphasise the need to consider flood risk as early as possible in the planning
process, focusing on core policies that are clearer and easier to understand and
strengthening guidance on the need to include Flood Risk Assessments at all
levels in the planning process.
The draft PPS25 will aim to clarify the
sequential test, which allocates development to areas of least flood risk first.
It also matches the nature of the development to the level of flood risk. For
example, highly vulnerable uses such as hospitals should not be permitted in
areas of high probability of flooding, but leisure and tourism development might
be appropriate. This approach manages flood risk while allowing necessary
development to take place.
In addition, we will consult on
strengthening the role of the Environment Agency, making it a statutory
consultee on planning applications in flood risk areas so local authorities have
to consult the Environment Agency before they give planning permission.
We will consult on whether to introduce
a 'Flooding Direction'. This would provide greater scrutiny for major
developments proposed in flood risk areas. Where local authorities intend
approve applications that the Environment Agency still objects to, ODPM could
consider whether to call them in for decision by a Minister.
Our proposals have been welcomed by
both the Environment Agency and the Association of British Insurers and we have
been working closely with all stakeholders to develop the draft PPS25.
[comment: at present Local Authorities can ignore advice!]