The Flood and Water Management Act 2010 requires the Environment Agency to develop, maintain, apply and monitor a national strategy for flood and coastal erosion risk management (FCERM) in England. This was published in 2011. The Welsh Government has published a national FCERM strategy for Wales which establishes the strategic framework in Wales.
The Government, the Environment Agency, local authorities, water companies, internal drainage boards and other organisations all have a role to play in FCERM and the national strategies aim to raise awareness of each others' roles and co-ordinate how they manage risks.
The term ‘risk' refers to a combination of the likelihood of floods or coastal erosion occurring and the consequences that can happen when they do occur. The national strategy sets out what needs to be done to manage these risks by improving our understanding of them, reducing the likelihood of incidents happening, as well as managing the potential consequences to people, businesses, infrastructure and services.
All the organisations listed above should use the national strategies to help coordinate their work together with communities. Following the strategy, all Risk Management Authorities should apply the following principles in their work:
- Work in partnership with communities to understand the community perspective, help communities understand and actively prepare for the risks, and encourage them to have direct involvement in decision-making.
- Take a catchment or coastal “cell” approach, to avoid passing risk on to others within the catchment or along the coast
- Seek sustainable solutions by taking account of the whole life costs of investments, and where possible working with nature and preparing for climate change.
- Take a risk-based management approach targeting resources to those areas where they have greatest effect
- Seek multiple benefits through flood and coastal actions across economic, environmental and social improvement.
- Develop approaches that encourages local beneficiaries to invest in risk management.
Find out more about the National Strategy for FCERM
Local strategies for flood and coastal erosion risk management
Lead Local Flood Authorities (LLFAs) must develop local strategies for flood and coastal erosion risk management that are consistent with the national strategy for FCERM. A local strategy must cover local flood risk, which is likely to include some or all of the following:
- surface water flooding
- groundwater flooding
- flooding from ordinary watercourses.
LLFAs will be responsible for developing and applying their local strategy, and other Risk Management Authorities must act consistently with the local strategy in respect to FCERM. The other partners in delivering a local strategy will include district authorities, IDBs, water companies and highways authorities.
There is no prescribed format or scope beyond the legislative requirements contained in the Flood and Water Management Act for producing local flood risk management strategies. Therefore, to assist LLFAs, the LGA has produced a framework in 2011 to assist with the development of local strategies.
LLFAs will need to consider and determine the exact scope of their local strategy, which should reflect local circumstances, aspirations and priorities. The nature and prevalence of flood risk locally is likely to shape the scope of any local strategy. Other risk management authorities and the public must be consulted on the draft strategy. The strategy should be reviewed and revised on a regular basis and the strategy itself should contain information on how it is to be reviewed.
There is no prescription as to whether each LLFA must have its own local strategy, or whether a number of LLFAs can combine to produce a joint strategy. LLFAs cannot delegate the duty to ensure that a local strategy is in place, but there is no prohibition from developing joint strategies covering a number of different LLFAs. In fact, such an approach might be the most appropriate in an area where a number of smaller LLFAs are grouped within a hydrological catchment area. Equally hydrological systems run across the administrative boundaries of larger LLFAs. These authorities will need to liaise with their neighbours to ensure that activities in one location do not create or increase problems in another.