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Strategic flood risk assessment

Explains what a strategic flood risk assessment is, are Level 1 and Level 2 SFRA's prepared, guidance available and what is the sequential and exceptions test. 

What is a Strategic Flood Risk Assessment (SFRA)?

A Strategic Flood Risk Assessment, or SFRA, is part of the evidence base for the Local Development Framework and collates information on all known sources of flooding that may affect existing or future development within our area. Such sources include tidal, river, surface water (local drainage), sewers and groundwater.

In collecting this information, the SFRA identifies and maps areas that have a ‘low’, ‘medium’ and ‘high’ probability of flooding within the East Riding, in accordance with national policy.

Within the flood affected areas, the SFRA recommends appropriate land uses that will not unduly place people or property at risk of flooding. Where flood risk has been identified as a potential constraint to future development, the SFRA recommends possible flood mitigation solutions that may be integrated into the design (by the developer) to minimise the risk to property and life should a flood occur.

Has the council prepared a Level 1 SFRA?

Yes. The Level 1 SFRA was approved by Cabinet on 19 January 2010 and formally signed off by the Environment Agency on 11 February 2010. The written report is available to download here along with the Maps, Figures and Appendices.

Environment Agency Flood Maps (external website)  

Main Report

Strategic Flood Risk Assessment (Level 1) - Main Report (pdf 506kb opens in new window) 

Appendix A - SFRA Flood Maps

Map key to small maps (pdf 2.3mb opens in new window)

Has the council prepared a Level 2 SFRA?

Yes. The Goole Level 2 SFRA was approved by Cabinet on 5 July 2011. It also has the support of the Environment Agency. It has been prepared in accordance with national planning policy (PPS 25), enabling the Council and developers to take into account theoretical ‘worst case’ flooding scenarios when proposing/determining development. It maps ‘residual’ flood risks that could occur as a result defence overtopping (in a ‘1 in 200 year’ tidal flood event) using both current and future tide-level predictions, and defence breaches. Importantly, the Level 2 SFRA confirms that the Environment Agency is committed to maintaining and improving the town’s flood defences into the future, thus mitigating the risk of overtopping. The key residual risk to Goole therefore is the risk of a breach(es), which can never be fully eradicated. The principal SFRA maps are Figures N (Combined Breach Hazard) and O (Combined Breach Depths). These identify the relevant hazard classification for a site and appropriate design/mitigation measures. The Flood Risk Note for the Planning Application Process provides further guidance on how to use the Level 2 SFRA in preparing planning applications / site-specific flood risk assessments.

Level 2 SFRA - Goole (pdf 700kb opens in a new window) 

Breach Maps

Figure O - Combined breach depth map (pdf 11.0mb opens in a new window)

Figure N - Combined breach hazard map (pdf 13.8mb opens in a new window)  

Figure M - Rate of ingress map (pdf 493kb opens in a new window) 

Overtopping Maps

Figure A1 - Defence overtopping depth map (jpg 500kb opens in a new window)

Figure A2 - Defence overtopping hazard map (jpg 491kb opens in a new window)

Figure B1 - Defence overtopping depth map plus climate change (jpg 635kb opens in a new window)

Figure B2 - Defence overtopping hazard map plus climate change (jpg 589kb opens in a new window)

Is there any guidance available on how to use the SFRA and the application of the flood risk policy?

Yes. A note has been prepared to provide assistance to developers, applicants, and Local Planning Authority officers on how to use the council’s Strategic Flood Risk Assessment and how to apply flood risk policy in the East Riding of Yorkshire. It aims to promote transparency and consistency in the approach East Riding of Yorkshire Council will take to applying the flood risk Sequential and Exception Tests. The note has been updated in 2017 to reflect the adoption of the East Riding Local Plan and to incorporate best practice.

Flood Risk guidance note (pdf 1mb opens in a new window)  

The note is not a formal supplementary planning document.

In addition to the above, the council has also prepared a planning note and standing advice on how sustainable drainage systems (SuDS) should be taken account of in new developments. The note provides guidance on how the Government's standards for SuDS and surface water drainage will apply in the East Riding. The note can be accessed on our design of surface water drainage systems page.

What is the Sequential Test?

The primary objective of planning policy in respect of flood risk, is to steer vulnerable development towards areas of lowest flood risk. The National Planning Policy Framework advocates a sequential approach that will guide the planning decision making process (i.e. the allocation of sites). In simple terms, this requires planners to seek to allocate sites for future development within areas of lowest flood risk in the initial instance. Only if it can be demonstrated that there are no reasonably available sites within these areas should alternative sites (i.e. within areas that may potentially be at risk of flooding) be contemplated. This is referred to as the Sequential Test.

What is the Exceptions Test?

Many towns within England are situated adjacent to rivers, and are at risk of flooding. The future sustainability of these communities relies heavily upon their ability to grow and prosper. The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) recognises that, in some areas, including the East Riding, restricting residential development from areas designated as Zone 3a (High Probability) may compromise the viability of existing communities within the region.

For this reason, the NPPF provides an Exception Test. Where a local planning authority has identified that there is a strong planning based argument for a development to proceed following the application of the Sequential Test, it will be necessary for the Council to demonstrate that the Exception Test can be satisfied.

For the Exception Test to be passed:

  • it must be demonstrated that the development provides wider sustainability benefits to the community that outweigh flood risk, informed by a Strategic Flood Risk Assessment where one has been prepared; and
  • a site-specific flood risk assessment must demonstrate that the development will be safe for its lifetime taking account of the vulnerability of its users, without increasing flood risk elsewhere, and, where possible, will reduce flood risk overall.

What is a Preliminary Flood Risk Assessment (PFRA)?

As a Lead Local Flood Authority (LLFA), the East Riding of Yorkshire Council has produced a Preliminary Flood Risk Assessment to meet the requirements of the Flood Risk Regulations 2009 and European Floods Directive.

Stages of Flood Risk Regulations

1. Preliminary Flood Risk Assessment

  • Preliminary Assessment Report for each LLFA
  • Deadline 22/06/2011
2. Identify Flood Risk Areas
  • Where the risk of flooding is significant
  • Deadline 22/06/2011
3. Prepare Flood Hazard and Flood Risk Maps
  • For Flood Risk Areas
  • Deadline 22/06/2013
4. Prepare Flood Risk Management Plans
  • For Flood Risk Areas
  • Deadline 22/06/2015

The PFRA forms the Council’s preliminary assessment dealing with specific types of flood risk within the East Riding and follows the preferred format in the Environment Agency’s PFRA final guidance. The PFRA provides an initial assessment of local flood risk across the East Riding, including information on past floods and the potential for future flooding. 

Primarily the document considers potential flooding from surface water runoff, groundwater and ordinary water courses, but recognises the complex interactions and combined effects of the different types of flooding. The Environment Agency (EA) retains primary responsibility for flood risk from main rivers, the sea and larger reservoirs.

The PFRA will form the basis of the preparation of a Local Flood Risk Management Strategy (LFRMS) and strategic investment plan. The LFRMS will seek to prioritise actions, set out an investment programme and identify resources and assign measurable outcomes.

The objectives of the Preliminary Flood Risk Assessment are to:

  • Establish boundaries of the indicative flood risk area 

  • Identify additional hydraulic catchment-based flood risk areas, to be subject to further studies (such as surface water management plans)

  • Record historic flood events from local and national sources and the assess the consequences and impacts of these; describe recording systems

  • Assess potential future flood events and their impacts

  • Feed into flood resilience and emergency planning processes

  • Provide the context and framework for a local flood risk management strategy that will identify priorities, investment and resource requirements.

Has the council prepared a Preliminary Flood Risk Assessment? (PFRA)

Yes, the Council has prepared a PFRA.

The document was presented to cabinet on 19 July 2011 where it was approved, with minor amendments made for the final submission to the Environment Agency by 19 August 2011. 

Preliminary Flood Risk Assessment 2011 (pdf 3.22mb opens in new window)

What significant flood risk areas does the PFRA identify?

The document presents four potential flood risk areas across the East Riding. In determining these areas, the council assessed what could be considered a significant flood risk.

Ministers set the thresholds for significant flood risk at 30,000 people in England and 5,000 in Wales.  The threshold in Wales is set lower than England as a reflection of the different nature of the risks.  In Wales the areas are more rural with market towns and settlements which are smaller and the source and nature of surface water problems are different, therefore a lower threshold was selected to enable the risks in the Welsh valleys and other specific locations to be included.

A threshold of 30,000 people creates an overwhelming urban bias, regardless of the number of households likely to be at risk from flooding. The Council believes that in the East Riding, with its market towns, villages and rural nature, an approach closer to that adopted in Wales is more appropriate.

The Council has modified an indicative flood risk area presented by the Environment Agency covering Kingston Upon Hull & Haltemprice.  The Environment Agency has accepted this modification.  The number of people at risk in this area exceeds the 30,000 threshold.

The Council has proposed an additional three flood risk areas susceptible to surface water flooding based on settlements with over 5,000 people at risk. 

Bridlington. The main risk is from a coincidence of surface water flood risk and the restrictions caused by culverts along parts of Gypsey Race (the latter being identified in the Hull & Coastal Streams Catchment Flood Management Plan). 

Beverley. Surface water flood risk is from exceedance of the drainage system. The parts of the town at risk are similar to those at risk from flooding from the River Hull.

Goole. The Ouse Catchment Flood Management Plan identifies tidal flooding as the main risk. However, most of the town is defended to a 1 in 200 standard against this by raised river embankments. In practical terms the main risk is from surface water, as the drainage system relies entirely on pumping. Main flooding events in modern times (at least post 1947) have been pluvial ones 

The surface water risk to the three settlements of Beverley, Bridlington and Goole fall below the 30,000 people threshold outlined in the PFRA guidance document "Selecting and reviewing flood risk areas for local sources of flooding"

Has the council's PFRA been accepted by the Environment Agency?

No. The Environment Agency has reviewed the East Riding of Yorkshire Council PFRA and determined that the additional Flood Risk Areas are not compliant with Government Guidance as the areas identified do not meet the thresholds and criteria set by the Minister in England.  The Council has had regard to this guidance but is of the opinion that there is no requirement to accept the proposed thresholds.  The Council has instead chosen to adopt an approach which better reflects local circumstances and which seeks to highlight what are regarded as serious flooding issues.   In accordance with the Regulations the matter has been referred to the Minister for a final decision. The Council is expecting a determination to be made in January.

The Environment Agency considers the content on past and future floods and the changes made to the Hull and Haltemprice Flood Risk Area to be compliant with the requirements of the Regulations and Government Guidance and we are therefore publishing the East Riding PFRA to ensure we meet the European Commission deadline for publication of 22 December 2011. Although the European Directive sets a deadline of 22 December for publication of PFRAs, this does not include the identification of Flood Risk Areas. There is no specific deadline for identification of Flood Risk Areas in the Directive, however the Commission has since proposed that Member States should report on this within 6 months of publication of the PFRAs

Whilst the Ministerial determination is outstanding, the Preliminary Flood Risk Assessment is a provisional document.

Information on PFRAs on the Environment Agency website (external website)

Hull City Council's PFRA (external website)
Last Updated: Tuesday, 07 November 2017