Planning Portal

Durkan’s proposals for reducing flood risk

Published on Thu, 10 Oct 2013 by
Environment Minister, Mark H Durkan, today proposed new initiatives to reduce the risk of future flooding.
The Minister also proposed in the Revised Draft Planning Policy Statement 15 ‘Planning and Flood Risk’, improvements to manage and recover from flooding events which occur.

Included in the policy is a proposal to address safety in reservoirs. This will require developers to provide assurances about reservoir safety before planning permission is granted for any new development close to reservoirs.

Other key proposals are that developers will now have to submit a flood risk assessment within identified flood risk areas and demonstrate how these risks can be managed through, for example, building flood proofed buildings.

Within areas protected by flood defences but still at risk from flooding, under the proposals there will be increased safeguards. This means that new developments where the young or vulnerable are potentially at risk from flooding such as hospitals, schools, nursing homes and nurseries, will not be permitted. Similarly, developments housing hazardous substances that would pose a health risk in the instance of flooding would also be refused planning permission.

In coastal flood plains there will be greater flexibility to facilitate development when the flood risk has been mitigated through raising the land to an appropriate level.

There is also new guidance on sustainable drainage and the flood proofing of buildings in flood risk areas.

Mark H Durkan said: “Up until the beginning of this year, there has only been one year (2010) that did not experience a serious local flood incident. Given the predictions for climate change, the frequency of these events is likely to increase in the future.

“While flooding is a natural phenomenon that cannot be entirely eliminated, we in government need to do all we can to address this recurring problem which can have devastating impacts on individuals and communities - especially the vulnerable. And let’s not forget the impact on buildings, and the delivery of services and the hardship experienced by people in the recovery and clean up period. Flooding can also directly affect schools, hospitals, businesses, transport and infrastructure and is therefore detrimental to our economy and society.

“I believe it is important to ensure that the planning system continues to manage new development so as to further reduce the risk of flooding to people and property. I also think that developers building near reservoirs should take responsibility for ensuring their safety – making this a planning condition should help create a safer environment.”

Agriculture and Rural Development Minister Michelle O’Neill, who has responsibility for the Rivers Agency, added: “I very much welcome this review of PPS 15 which will provide a clearer and more robust policy statement for government bodies, developers and their representatives on all aspects of flood risk arising from proposed development. My Department has been fully involved in the revised policy statement and I look forward to the outcome of the consultation process.”

The Environment Minister concluded: “Government is committed to limiting the devastating impacts of flooding and there is much joined-up work being progressed alongside full use of new information on flood risk. I am particularly grateful for the valuable contribution of DARD Rivers Agency in the development of the revised draft PPS. This revised policy and updated guidance is something that can have an impact on many people’s lives so I encourage people to participate in the consultation.”

The consultation is available at: or a copy can be obtained from Planning Policy Division, Level 3, Millennium House, 17-25 Great Victoria Street, Belfast, BT2 7BN 1FY, tel: 028 90416946.

Notes to editors:

1. PPS 15 ‘Planning and Flood Risk’ was published in June 2006 with a commitment that it would be reviewed within five years of publication.

2. Revised Draft PPS 15 is the outcome of the Review. DOE is undertaking public consultation on the document, for a period of 12 weeks, ending on 10 January 2014.

3. The main aim of the revised Draft PPS 15 remains “to prevent future development that may be at risk from flooding or that may increase the risk of flooding elsewhere”.

4. Revised Draft PPS 15 contains one new policy dealing with development in proximity to reservoirs. It also updates the existing four policies in PPS 15 and provides additional guidance, taking account of new flood risk and drainage information that has become available since 2006.

5. Revised Draft PPS 15 has been brought forward in consultation with DARD Rivers Agency. DARD is the competent authority for the implementation of the EU Floods Directive in Northern Ireland.

6. All media enquiries should be directed to the DOE Press Office 028 9025 6058. Out of office hours please contact the duty press officer via pager number 07699 715 440 and your call will be returned.
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