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Improving surface water drainage

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What is Surface Water Drainage?

Image of attenuation pond for new development (SUDS attenuation pond for a new development in North Gosforth, Newcastle)Surface water flooding occurs where high rainfall events exceed the drainage capacity in an area.  Such events can also lead to serious flooding of property and possessions where surface water flows and collects. 

What are we doing?

As part of the Government's response to the Pitt Review, Ministers announced investment of £15 million to help local authorities co-ordinate and lead local flood management work. As an immediate step, six local authorities were funded to develop first edition surface water management plans (SWMPs), the results of which have fed into the updated SWMP Technical Guidance Document. The final reports from these six local authorities are now available on the Defra website.

On 18th August 2009 Ministers announced how the £15 million would be allocated  to local authorities and the list of 77 local authorities who would be awarded grants (PDF 14KB) to develop SWMPs in the areas considered to be at highest risk. Defra have written to the local authorities concerned with more details. Details of the methodology (PDF 296KB) used for the allocation and a list of all settlements in England in rank order (PDF 2.2MB) by risk are available to view online.

Funding from £5.3 million allocation for early actions to tackle local flood risk

The successful applicants (PDF 56KB) were announced in April 2010.

Bids were open to local authorities in England for individual works or studies between £20k-£100k aiming to achieve quick wins to manage and alleviate local flood risk. Local authorities were invited to submit more than one bid for their area with priority given to bids for locations which are not receiving funding as part of the £9.7million allocation for surface water management plans in the potential highest risk areas.

Implementation of the Lead Local Flood Authority Role under the Flood and Water Management Act

The first stage of implementing the Act includes the commencement of provisions which enable operating authorities to start tackling flood risk management, but without imposing significant new burdens on operating authorities until next financial year.

The commencement of section 9 (Local Flood Risk Management Strategies) in October 2010 will mean that lead local flood authorities (LLFAs) will need to begin developing their strategies within a reasonable timeframe.  It is expected that the development of Preliminary Flood Risk Assessments (already required under the Flood Risk Regulations 2009) will be the focus of LLFA work on the local strategy up to April 2011 for which an additional £2m has been made available. Further details of the implementation of section 9 and the amount of funding awarded to each LLFA is contained in a letter issued to all LLFAs on 16 September 2010.  

Although the funding has been announced to help local authorities put together risk assessments this year, it is important to recognise that these in turn will feed into local strategies next year. Further advice on developing local strategies will be provided through the LGA working group and we expect this to be available by the end of the year. 

£2m additional funding announced to help local authorities deliver Preliminary Flood Risk Assessments

The Flood Risk Regulations which implement the EU Floods Directive require Lead Local Flood Authorities (LLFAs) to produce Preliminary Flood Risk Assessments (PFRAs) by June 2011.  To help LLFAs deliver these an additional £2m has been made available.  Details of the allocation will be available shortly.

Surface Water Management Plans

The updated Surface Water Management Plan Technical Guidance (March 2010) is now available to local authorities providing information on how to produce Surface Water Management Plans.Image of pond forming part of SUDS drainage scheme for housing development in Fleet, Hampshire. Photo courtesy of the Environment Agency.

Capacity and skills building

An additional £1m has been identified for building skills and capacity within local authorities. This will include the provision of training, guidance and support tools to all local authorities and a programme for this will be delivered with local authorities and their representatives over the later part of 2010 and early 2011.Image of a green roof. Green roofs can play a key part in climate change mitigation and adaptation.

Defra held a workshop on the 9 February 2010 in Reading to hear local authority views on what they see as their priority areas for capacity and skills development.  Defra have used this feedback and other evidence to develop a programme of training and other ways to help meet local authority needs. This draft strategy (PDF 880KB) has now been published. 


Local Flood Risk Management Portal

In recognition of the need for local authorities to work effectively and increase their knowledge and capacity in local flood risk management, Defra and the Environment Agency have set up a project to develop a Local Flood Risk Management Portal. The aim of this project is to provide an authoritative on-line source of supporting information for local flood risk management containing key reference documents covering policy, guidance and good practice.

To help understand the needs and requirements of local authorities for an online Local Flood Risk Portal, and to provide an opportunity to influence its design and content, local authorities were invited to respond to a Local Flood Risk Portal questionnaire, the results of which are currently being analysed.

Related Reports


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Page last modified: 17 September 2010
Page published: 7 February 2008