Flood risk management plans (FRMPs) in England, originally published in 2016, are to be subjected to full strategic environmental assessments to ensure their sustainability, the Environment Agency has confirmed.
The agency, in a formal notice on 17 June, said it has determined SEAs are likely to be required to satisfy The Environmental Assessment of Plans and Programmes Regulations (England) 2004 (EAPPR 2004). This is because an FRMP amounts to a "plan or programme" (or a modification to an existing plan or programme), and because they meet other criteria in APPR 2004 regulations. In particular, that they are unlikely to involve minor modifications, "set the framework"for future development consent, and because a precautionary approach is appropriate given that they are likely to have significant effects on European protected sites, it says.
The SEAs will cover river basin districts (RBDs) in England, and also English parts of the RBDs that lie partly in England and partly in Scotland or Wales, amounting to ten in total. RBD FRMPs to be covered include: Anglian, Dee (the area within England), Humber, Northumbria, North West, Severn (the area within England), Solway Tweed (the area within England), South East, South West, Thames.
The notice confirms that each updated FRMP will include, amongst other things: an overview of flood risk in the RBD, objectives for managing flood risk, measures to be implemented to meet the objectives, how these measures will help to achieve the ambitions of the National Flood and Coastal Erosion Risk Management Strategy and the government’s environmental objectives, and how and when the FRMP will next be reviewed.
For example, in the Anglian RBD, the flood risk management plan (FRMP) is split into 6 documents. These include a high-level overview of the FRMP, legislative background and information for the whole river basin district (RBD) in Part A, and in Part B detail about each catchment, flood risk and strategic areas, while Part C details measures identified to manage flood risk across the RBD. The SEA statement of particulars covers potential impacts on people and environment when implementing the measures, and the habitat regulations assessment details potential impacts on designated European sites of these measures.