New guidance on multi-agency local flood planning

The Government has issued new guidance for Local Resilience Forums on developing a multi-agency flood plan.

The Government has issued new guidance for Local Resilience Forums (LRFs) on developing a multi-agency flood plan.

Central to the plans are clear mechanisms for accessing and mapping information about vulnerable people and key infrastructure.

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The guidance highlights several sources for flood risk and impact information, including the Department for Transport (DfT), which has information on communities of more than 200 properties that may become isolated due to flooded roads.

The DfT obtains this information from Highways England if the flooded road is part of the strategic road network, or highways authorities and other councils if the flooded road is local.

LRFs are advised that the loss of infrastructure assets may have a significant impact across multiple sectors and geographical areas and 'it is vital that this is assessed and prioritised'. 

There are also three related resources useful for constructing a  Multi-Agency Flood Plan (MAFP):

  • MAFP Template: a guide for construction/revision of a MAFP to a standardised structure
  • MAFP Good Practice Examples: good practice content for each of the elements required
  • MAFP Checklist: a tabulated summary of the contents of the new guidance to check the completeness of your MAFP.

These documents can be accessed via the Multi-Agency Flood Plan Guidance page on ResilienceDirect or on request by email floodemergencies@defra.gov.uk.

Where to cover

Geographical areas to consider covering in a MAFP can be determined using the following guidelines:

  • the degree of flood risk to an area is a ‘medium’ (between 1% and 3.3%) and / or ‘high’ (>3.3%) chance of flooding in any one year, according to the Environment Agency’s (EA’s) Flood Map
  • there are >250 residential and/or business properties that are at ‘medium and / or high’ risk of being flooded from river, coastal/tidal, surface water, and groundwater. For coastal/tidal, this should be where flood protection schemes only afford protection up to a 1 in 75 standard (floods of 0.75% chance in any one year would exceed the scheme)
  • the consequences of flooding in zones of ‘medium and/or high’ flood risk are such that there would be severe disruption to >1,000 people for a period of time 
  • the impact of flooding in zones of ‘medium and/or high’ flood risk would include making certain assets, sites or critical infrastructure unavailable for a period of time. Unavailability of such would lead to a risk to life or health – in particular those vulnerable members of the community (elderly, sick, disabled or infirm). Plus, the consequences of flooding of these assets, sites or critical infrastructure would lead to additional significant disruptive challenges (for example, the loss of essential services) that would take three or four days to put right
  • the impact of flooding and risk to life would be significant due to the rapidly responding nature of the catchment

Which flooding threats to cover

MAFPs need to 'adequately address river, coastal/tidal, surface water and groundwater flood risk (as defined in Community Risk Registers) and the associated emergency response arrangements'.

The plan is not required to include flood risks from foul sewage, burst water main, canals and private lakes; or (unless a significant risk areas currently plan for) reservoir dam failure.

LRFs, guidance and plans

The new guidance from environment department Defra replaces the ‘Detailed Guidance on Developing a Multi-Agency Flood Plan’ published in June 2011 and draws on findings from the Multi-Agency Flood Plan Review in 2018.

LRFs are multi-agency partnerships made up of representatives from local public services, including the emergency services, local authorities, the NHS and the Environment Agency.

Although there is no statutory requirement for an LRF to have a Multi-Agency Flood Plan (MAFP), members of the forums are known as Category 1 Responders, as defined by the Civil Contingencies Act.

This Act requires Category 1 Responders to maintain plans for preventing emergencies and for reducing, controlling or mitigating the effects of emergencies in both the response and recovery phases.

On top of this Defra advises that 'each LRF will face a risk from at least one source of flooding, whether that is from rivers, the coast, surface water or groundwater'.

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