Planning Portal

Cairns Plans to Tackle Flood Risks

Published on Fri, 9 Jun 2006
Environment Minister David Cairns has issued a stricter planning policy to minimise flood risk in response to predicted climate change.
The new policy aims to ensure that new development is not at risk from flooding and does not increase the effects of flooding elsewhere.
He said: "Climate change is expected to increase flood risk here in Northern Ireland. The new policy underlines my commitment to promote a more sustainable approach to the management of development and flood risk and is consistent with the principles of the recently published Sustainable Development Strategy. It takes account of the impact of climate change and seeks to protect people, property and the environment from the adverse effects of flooding.
"While Northern Ireland is fortunate not to have experienced the large-scale flooding witnessed in other parts of the UK, I want to make sure that we do not increase future flood risk here by permitting inappropriately located development. Securing and promoting the natural role of flood plains is a key factor in achieving this goal.
"The new Planning Policy Statement confirms the precautionary approach to development where flood risk is an issue, introduced by my colleague, Angela Smith, when consulting on this matter last year. I believe this will help protect individuals and communities from the personal suffering and damage that flooding can bring. I am encouraged too that this view was echoed by the vast majority of responses, from a diversity of interests, to the public consultation exercise."
The Minister said the new policy seeks to move away from the traditional dependence on hard-engineered flood prevention measures and drainage solutions by promoting early identification of problems and approaches that work in harmony with the water environment rather than against it.

Notes to Editors

  1. DOE's new policy is contained in Planning Policy Statement 15 entitled 'Planning and Flood Risk'. It embodies the Government's commitment to sustainable development and the conservation of biodiversity, takes account of climate change and promotes an approach to development that supports the wellbeing and safety of people.
  2. Planning Policy Statements (PPS) set out DOE policies on particular aspects of land-use planning and other planning matters and apply to the whole of Northern Ireland. Their contents are taken into account as a material consideration in the determination of planning applications and appeals.
  3. A public consultation draft of PPS 15 was issued in December 2004. Twenty-seven responses were received to the consultation, the majority of which welcomed the new policy. Most respondents were supportive of the broad principles established by the consultation draft and the adoption of the precautionary approach to dealing with flood risk. A summary of consultation comments together with the DOE's response to these is being published concurrently with PPS 15.
  4. The planning system can prevent development at risk of flooding. It has no direct role however in relation to existing property at risk other than to ensure that planning decisions do not exacerbate the problem.
  5. The Northern Ireland Sustainable Development Strategy was published by DOE on 9 May 2006. It can be accessed at the DOE website: Opens link in a new browser window
  6. PPS 15 and the Summary of Responses to the Public Consultation Draft can both be accessed on this website and copies can also be obtained from Planning Service Headquarters, Millennium House, 17-25 Great Victoria Street, BELFAST, BT2 7BN.
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