Local authorities under pressure to get flood risk management right

Local authorities under pressure to get flood risk management right

Lead local flood authorities (LLFA) play an important role in managing local flood risks from surface run off, groundwater and ordinary watercourses (ie not main rivers) for their areas. This role came from findings in the 2007 Pitt Review, which called for greater powers to local authorities when managing local flood risks.  Unitary authorities and county councils in England, and county councils and county borough councils in Wales, are the LLFA, under the Flood and Water Management Act 2010.

One of their principal roles is to create a local flood risk management strategy for their area and ensure that this is consistent with the national flood and coastal erosion risk management strategies for England and Wales (depending on the LLFA’ location). This local strategy is crucial in setting out what the local flood risks are, how they will be dealt with and resourced, what any wider environmental implications might be (such as contributing to sustainable development), as well as when they will be reviewed. In preparing the local flood risk management strategies, LLFA must ensure they engage with the public and other risk management authorities.

When carrying out their flood risk management duties, LLFA have to ensure that they cooperate with the other risk management authorities, such as the water companies, highways authorities and internal drainage boards.

LLFA must also keep a register of those structures and features likely to have a significant effect on flood risk in their area. Structures or features, such as, garden walls or embankments, can be designated by LLFA, which means that the owner of the feature can’t alter that feature without the LLFA’s consent. This is to prevent the risk of structures or features being changed in such a way as to interfere with flood or coastal management.

LLFA can also carry out flood management works in certain circumstances, even where the result of the works leads to flood, coastal erosion or an increase in the amount of water below the ground. Such works can only be carried out where the LLFA considers it in the interests of nature conservation, preservation of cultural heritage or people’s enjoyment of cultural heritage and the environment. The LLFA also has to weigh up these benefits against any harm to human health, infrastructure, the environment and the social and economic welfare of individuals and communities. They also need to consult with other affected LLFA and the Environment Agency or Natural Resources Wales, as appropriate.

In many parts of Somerset this year, de-silting and dredging of rivers and water courses has begun, in an effort to reduce the risk of flooding, in the wake of the serious flooding events of late 2013 and early 2014.

With stormier, wetter winters predicted by many, the likelihood of flooding is set to increase, putting the pressure on LLFA to get it right.

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About the author:

Simone is an environmental law specialist and is head of LexisPSL Environment.

Simone moved to LexisNexis from Clyde & Co where she trained. Whilst at Clyde & Co Simone gained experience in contentious work, including large scale arbitrations, private claims and regulatory breaches, and a variety of non-contentious issues. Some of her experience includes the EU Emissions Trading System, the domestic Carbon Reduction Commitment Energy Efficiency Scheme, environmental due diligence, Energy Performance Certificates, permitting requirements and contaminated land.

Simone has written a number of articles, which have been published in various journals and is a trustee of the United Kingdom Environmental Law Association (UKELA).