What are flood defences?
Flood defences seek to reduce the risk of flooding, to safeguard life, protect property, sustain economic activity and protect the natural environment. Flood defences are designed to protect against flood events of a particular magnitude, expressed as risk in any one year.
The Environment Agency is responsible for all matters relating to fluvial and coastal flood defences as set out in the Water Resources Act (1991) (1). This includes supervision of implementing and managing flood defence schemes in England and Wales. There are currently more 34,000km of river and coastal flood defences in England and Wales. Such defences include levees, flood storage areas and sea walls.
If a property does not lie within an area which benefits from the Environment Agency’s flood defences, then a property owner can install protection measures themselves. These can be further broken down into “flood resistant” and “flood resilient” methods (2).
Flood resistant methods are installed to form a barrier against flood water, helping to keep it out of your home. These include features such as wall sealant, sewage back flow pipes, landscaping of garden areas so that water is funnelled away from the property and installation of flood covers for doors, windows and air bricks.
Flood resilient methods are designed to reduce the impact of flooding and the damage that can be encountered. These include using flooring which is unlikely to be affected by flood damage such as water proof tiles and wiring a house so that all electrical sockets and switches are above predicted flood levels.
Are flood protection measures included in “new build” properties?
If your property has been constructed since July 2001, then it is likely that flood risk would have been assessed under the Planning Policy Guidance 25 (July 2001) and Planning Policy Statement 25 (December 2006). These policies were superseded by the Government’s National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) in March 2012 and indicates that flood risk should be considered at all stages of the planning and development process in order to reduce future damage to property and potential loss of life. To establish whether flood protection measures were incorporated as part of your property’s development, you may wish to contact the planning department of your Local Authority. Further information on NPPF requirements can be found here.
What happens if my property was built prior to July 2001?
If your property was developed prior to the above guidance then home owners can guard against and minimise the impact of flood damage by installing the aforementioned flood resistant methods and/or making it flood resilient. Further information on installing such measures and preparing yourself for flooding can be found here.
How may new developments and flood defences affect existing properties?
Although it is important to protect your property against flood risk, some measures may require you to consult the Environment Agency or your local planning department. If you restrict the flow of water, it may cause flooding to occur in other areas. For example, properties in Nottingham have been affected by recent flooding in June. These properties were not known to have flooded in the past and local residents believe this was as a result of the recent construction of the Clifton Tram Park and Ride (tramway line) (5). A similar case occurred in Heybridge in Essex, where a residential development was permitted within a flood plain (6). Whilst the development called for flood protection measures to be installed to protect the new build, the development itself is believed to have caused flooding in other areas where older properties (not benefiting from flood defences) have become affected.
How can Groundsure help you?
Here at Groundsure we strive to provide our customers with the most up to date commercially available flood data. In order to help clients prepare for potential flood risks and minimise damage to their properties, our flood data is incorporated into a number of our residential and commercial reports, including the Groundsure Screening Search, Review Search and Homebuyers Search. A full list of reports containing flood risk assessments can be found here.
- Water Resources Act 1991. Chapter 57. http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1991/57/pdfs/ukpga_19910057_en.pdf. Date accessed 07/07/2016.
- National Flood Forum. 2014. Reducing my flood risk. http://www.nationalfloodforum.org.uk/property-level-protection-community-tool/. Date accessed 07/07/2016.
- Department for Communities and Local Government. March 2012. National Planning Policy Framework. https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/6077/2116950.pdf. Date accessed 07/07/2016.
- National Flood Forum.2014. Ready for flooding- Before, during and after. http://www.nationalfloodforum.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/Ready-For-Flooding-26-11-14.pdf. Date accessed 07/07/2016
- Nottingham Post. July 2016.Investigation launches to find out if Nottingham tram works caused flooding in Beeston and Chilwell. http://www.nottinghampost.com/investigation-into-whether-nottingham-tram-works-caused-flash-floods-on-route/story-29474131-detail/story.html. Date accessed 07/07/2016.
- Maldon Standard. June 2016. Heybridge Residents fear new housing developments will bring more flash floods. http://www.maldonandburnhamstandard.co.uk/news/14582299.Heybridge_Residents_fear_new_housing_developments_will_bring_more_flash_floods/ date accessed 07/07/2016