The Committee considered the following report:
“1.0 Purpose of Report
1.1 To submit for the Committee’s approval a draft Council response to the Draft NI Flood Risk Management Plan 2021 – 2027 for submission to the Department of Infrastructure.
2.1 The Committee is asked to approve the draft consultation response and to note that any additional comments will be incorporated in the response.
3.0 Main Report
3.1 The Draft Flood Risk Management Plan states that in recent years, flooding has presented considerable challenges to both people and communities directly affected and to those providing emergency responses. Flooding can have potentially devastating impacts, on human life and health, damage to property, pollution to rivers and the sea and severe effects on economic activity, infrastructure and the environment. Flooding is also becoming more frequent and climate projections indicate that changing rainfall patterns, rising sea levels and more severe extreme weather conditions will increase its occurrence in the future.
3.2 Members will be aware that the Council has led on the development of the Belfast Resilience Strategy (December 2020), and has established Belfast Emergency Preparedness Group. In addition, the Council is currently developing the Belfast City Council Climate Plan, which will address both adaptation and mitigation, and Council is closely aligned with the planning and delivery of the Living with Water Programme.
3.3 The implementation of the Floods Directive, through the first six-year cycle of Flood Risk Management Planning, set out a catchment-based approach to the management of flood risk. It provided a more systematic, holistic and sustainable way of assessing, mapping and planning to manage flood risk than had been done previously. This was initiated in Northern Ireland by a Preliminary Flood Risk Assessment completed in 2011 (PFRA 2011) followed by preparation of Flood Hazard and Risk Maps in 2014. The information from these two stages culminated in the development of objectives and measures under the headings of Prevention, Protection and Preparedness, in the first cycle Flood Risk Management Plans, published in December 2015.
3.4 We are now well into the second cycle of Flood Risk Management Planning, the first stage of which was the Northern Ireland Flood Risk Assessment (NIFRA 2018). Flood Hazard and Risk Mapping was then reviewed and updated in December 2019. Accordingly, the second cycle Draft Flood Risk Management Plan has been issued for public consultation and the Council is now preparing to submit a response.
3.5 The second cycle Plan differs from the first cycle Plans in that there is now a single Plan covering the three River Basin Districts (RBD) for the six years from 2021 until 2027. Surface water flooding has been given greater emphasis because of the predominance of flooding from this source in recent years, and because the NIFRA 2018 indicated that potential damages from surface water flooding could be greater than from other main sources. In preparing this draft Plan the Department of Infrastructure worked in partnership with NI Water, the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs (DAERA) and the Department for the Economy (DfE), to develop a shared understanding of flood risk and to consider and agree roles and responsibilities in managing this risk.
3.6 Financial and Resource Implications
There are no financial or resource implications.
3.7 Equality or Good Relations Implications/Rural Needs Assessment
There are no direct equality or good relations/rural needs implications.”
After discussion, the Committee approved the response for submission to the Department for Infrastructure, a copy of which can be accessed here and agreed that it should also emphasise the need for more soft Sustainable Drainage Systems to be provided in urban spaces, including those where there were multiple land owners.