Since its first meeting in October 2008 attended by over 100 local authority delegates, the LGFF progressed with its campaigning work to lobby for recognition and support for the role of local authorities in managing local flood risks. This included meetings with various parliamentarians and officials from government departments and agencies.
LGFF again met in London on 21 February 2014 to discuss the recent floods that had started in early December 2013 and continued through to February. The meeting invited Max Tant from Kent County Council to discuss the floods that had affected the County and we also had panel discussing from authorities also affected from Torbay, Dorset and Runnymede. We were also provided by an update from the Environment Agency on the recent floods. WSP provided an update on partnership funding and the Committee on Climate Change provided a critical presentation on the Government's attempts to tackle climate change in the current financial climate. For presentations please click here to download in .pdf format.
LGFF meeting in London on 22 November 2013: We welcome again the ABI will be providing an upate on 'Flood Re' a scheme that aims to ensure households with a high risk flooding are still able to get home insurance. Speakers from two leading local authorities on SUDs - Kent and Bracknell Forest - will be discussing their differing perspectives and update on the national guidance. WSP will be looking at GIS and how mobile technology can help involve the public in flood related matters. And will be getting updates from Imperial College London on RainGain following last month's local government conference in France and the Environment Agency will provide an update on surface water mapping and other flood related matters. Click hereto attend!
LGFF in Paris! Local authorities from the LGFF attended the RainGain conference for local government in France on 23 October. This was an interesting conference that saw partners from the UK, France, Belgium and the Netherlands attend. There was a lot of debate and discussion on how French local government in Val de Marne dealt with flood related matters in particular evacuation in advance of predicted flooding and how this contrasted with UK local government. For information on the day's event click here.
LGFF members will be aware that we have been involved in an exciting project to discover the potential of radar to predict surface water flooding. The obvious consequence of this project's success is the adequate response of local authorities if flooding is predictable. The conference will briefly explain the science behind the predictions and then look at the roles of local authorities. Across the partner countries the roles and responsibilities of local authorities differ but all have a degree of surface water flooding responsibilities, liaison with water companies, active engagement with emergency services and the strategic oversight to appreciate connections across land use, health, leisure, education, adult care, economic development and resource management - click here for agenda.
We hope that this conference will produce a scoping document that identifies the opportunities and challenges for local authorities as flooding becomes more predictable. In the next two years we will be tackling each issue, identifying priorities and disseminating good practice.
In order for the project to be successful and useful for local government we need your input to shape our thinking and test our ideas and bring the British perspective to this European project. We hope you can attend and if you would like to register or ask for more information please contact Barry O'Brien at firstname.lastname@example.org or tel 020 7554 2800.
June 2013 - Below is a summary of the speakers presentations at LGFF meeting in Salford on 28 June.
Jon Hall, Chief Fire Officer for Gloucestershire Fire & Rescue Service gave an overview of the Fire & Rescue Authorities across the country. Currently, there are 46 Fire & Rescue Authorities with all local authorities paying into their local FRA. There still appears to be a disconnect between local authorities and their FRA. At present there isn't a statutory duty on FRAs to assist each other in the advent of a major incident. Instead there is a mutual aid scheme (referred to as the Bluff and Persuasion Act), goodwill and a can do attitude which has supported major incidences thus far. However, this goodwill may disappear in the next round of cuts (30% for local government) and as well competing local issues. No local authority can deal with a major incident on its own, but instead will require the support of other FRAs particularly for major flooding incidents where additional pumps will be required. Jon raised the idea of a national fire service to deal with major incidences. Although it was recently reported that the number of fires are going down the number of major incidents such as flooding has steadily risen. There has been a growing assumption for FRAs to become demand based services instead of the current risk based service (which arguably leads to over-provision). DEFRA, which has the statutory duty to deal with flood risk, has provided £140m funding for the voluntary and private sectors to provide crews in suitably specified boats to support rescue efforts in the advent of a major floods. On an upbeat note since the 2007 floods the UK is better prepared than most countries in dealing with major incidences such as flooding.
Cllr Derek Antrobus, Deputy Mayor, Salford City Council gave an overview of the economic development and regeneration in Salford, particularly in the Salford Quays, the River Irwell that straddles the city, the development of the Lowry Hotel and Mark Addy restaurant and the Salford Quays Millennium footbridge that links Salford with Manchester's business district. The 2007 floods showed very clearly how flooding can have a negative impact on economic development, which badly affected Salford. Salford are looking to build a new basin which would allow more housing and economic development to be built. Working with local partnerships and communities has shown that a ground up approach to flood risk and economic development should be championed over a national process forced on local government.
Q&A: It was suggested that the RFCC have an adjudicator role for finance. The group mentioned that is often difficult to put together bids for funding for small projects as they often struggle to get contributions from different sources, which are often stumbling blocks to a successful bid. Oxfordshire mentioned that schemes cannot rely on RFCC to top up contributions. Time can be a factor to package all contributions and to be creative
Charles Tucker, Chair, National Flood Forum on 27 June 2013 the Chancellor of the Exchequer announced that the 'Statement of Principles' will remain intact for an additional 2 years until a new scheme 'Flood Re' proposed by the ABI will be implemented in mid-2015. Flood Re will be a levy of £10.50 on all household home insurance to cover the 1% of households who are living in a high flood risk area in order that the majority of households are still able to obtain home insurance for their property. Changes to council tax banding will also incorporate flood risk and ability to pay. Currently insurance costs have been going up unsustainably and Flood Re is seen as a way of offsetting these high premiums. Home insurance has a direct impact on households obtaining mortgages and this has implications on the wider economy. Flood Re is expected to cover 99.5% of households. A Memorandum of Understanding is expected to cover £2.5 billion insurance claims.
Q&A: This doesn't necessarily deal with poor communities who are unable to take out home insurance or contents insurance. The scheme will only apply to households with businesses not covered. There will be safeguards preventing the insurance industry putting large numbers of households into high flood risk category. The scheme is intended to provide long-term resilience or protection measures and ensure the UK insurance industry continues to provide the majority of households with home insurance cover.
Emma Thomson, Senior Adviser, Environment Agency gave an update on developments. There has been a lot of work on improving the EA website, which has seen a steady increase in usage by the general public as well as key partners such as local government. Surface water flooding maps have been available to all emergency responders, and will also be made available to the insurance industry later this year. The maps have been updated from information sourced from Lead Flood Risk Authorities (LFRAs) and will be available by 21 December 2013 across England and Wales. Deadline for submissions by LFRAs is 22 July 2013 - see attached updates from the EA.
Mark Garratt, Area Flood Risk Manager, Environment Agency discussed the importance of partnership working and being creative in putting together bids for funding. In the North West the EA has helped 25 local authorities affecting some 200 properties. The EA has made 1200 forecasts, 370 flood alerts and 130 warnings potentially saving 22,000 properties from flooding through partnership working. There have been many iterations to partnership working with the EA NorthWest on its third version or generation.
Currently, EA NorthWest are at the mid-point in partnership development. Mark also reiterated the importance in maintaining the pressure and commitment as well as being creative given tight budgetary constraints. Each flood risk measures require different solutions. Looking collaboratively in obtaining funding from the £120million growth fund to help with flood risk. This means working closely with key stakeholders: local government, United Utilities, Highway Agency, Network Rail and the private sector. Cumbria mentioned that they had a good example of how good partnerships work engaging with local communities and how this can be applied to other areas. AGMA mentioned that they have capacity issues.
February 2013 - Below is a summary of the speakers and discussions at LGFF meeting in Birmingham on 2 February.
Gavin Shuker MP: the Shadow Minister for Water and Waste expressed concern about current levels of investment in flood risk management. However, he acknowledged that the situation was unlikely to improve given a likely prolonged squeeze on public spending and low-levels of partnership funding. Gavin also expressed concern about the current lack of clear accountability for flood risk management, the replacement for the statement of principles between insurers and government and delays in delivering primary and secondary legislation on flooding. Given the lack of public money, Gavin argued that a possible future Labour government would be focused on low-cost measures such as improving the planning regime, investment in emergency response and flood prediction, a renewed focus on maintenance of flood defences and a shift to management of flood risk on a whole catchment basis.
Matt Cullen, Association of British Insurers: Matt explained that the cost of the 2012 floods was £1.2bn. He pointed out that increased flood risk would have an impact on current general cover provided by all insurers which provides flood risk as a standard for both homeowners and businesses. High level discussions have been taking place with the government and the insurance industry to resolve this. "Flood Re" is seen by industry as a possible solution that creates a special pool of funding specifically for high risk flood claims. Insurers would add a small amount to every insurance policy irrespective of flood risk which would provide standard cover for claims from 1% of high risk policy holders. Matt argued that the insurance industry accepts that failure to provide cover would have a negative impact on the wider economy of the UK.
Emma Thomson and Jo Diamond, Environment Agency: Emma provided an overview of the update note that the EA now provides and explained that EA was here to support local government and the LGFF and to alert it to important issues affecting flooding. A copy of the update is attached for information. Jo Diamond updated the group on the work of the EA on a national map on surface water flooding. Five years since the 2007 floods 56,000 properties were flooded of which 35,000 was due to surface water flooding. It is expected that the national flood map will be published on 22 December 2013. She explained that some users preferred older versions of mapping and the EA had consulted on which generation of mapped was preferred. There has been an increase focus on the public about surface water as more of the public visit the EA's website to find out more about flooding in their neighbourhood. This has both positive and negative issues for the EA and expectations. LLFAs were encouraged to get partners to contribute to the map. The EA is asking LLFAs to:
Use historic flooding information
Review the national scale mapping
Check how well the data correlates
Review confidence scores
Decide whether to recommend local mapping
The intended outcome should be that there will be a consistent national picture of flooding from surface water.
Louise Clancy, Greater London Authority: Louise gave an overview of the role of the GLA and how it has supported a number of communities across London in particular Purley, Camberwell, Herne Hill and Redbridge in supporting them to deal with floods that have occurred locally. A film was shown of the work done in Purley which highlighted how important the role local communities were to both engage and co-operate on flooding issues. Active communities taking ownership of the issues affecting flooding helped ensure local people were better informed and supported.
November 2012 - The LGFF met on Friday, 2 November at WSP's London Office. Andy Johnston updated the group on RainGain. Russell Turner from Flood Forecasting Centre outlined the services provided and how it has improved on flood warnings for its customers. Hamish Hall from WSP presented three case studies on flood defence projects he has led on and also how he improved an Environment Agency form for helping developers decide flood risks.
In the afternoon the group heard from Matthew Hoy, Northamptonshire provided an excellent case study of their evacuation procedures following a recent flood in the county. Finally, Chris Preston and Debbie Guinan from DEFRA provided an update on where the department was with SuDs. DEFRA were very keen on working with Local Government to develop the legislation and asked members to volunteer their support.
July 2012 - The Local Government Flood Forum met on Friday 27 July at WSP’s Birmingham office. Ben Mitchell and Daniel Hayes from Peter Brett Associates LLP kicked-off by outlining some of the challenges for developers arising from Defra’s draft National Standards for SUDS. Julian Hatherall from WSP followed with a case study on assessing groundwater flood risk in Sandwell MBC which, although rare, is difficult to predict and can cause enormous damage.
The day concluded with two discussion sessions. The first, led by Susana Ochoa-Rodriguez from Imperial College London, looked at the opportunities and challenges associated with responding to more rapid and accurate flood risk warnings. The second, led by Midlands Regional Flood and Coastal Committee Chairman Tim Farr, discussed delegates experiences of the summer floods and the performance of the system introduced by the 2010 flooding legislation. Please click resources to download the presentations.
December 2011 - This was an interesting meeting which included some good debate. Daniel Johns, DEFRA, presentation was quite revealing about insurance cover for people in flood risk areas. We also had lively debate on planning with Chris Blakeley, from West Northamptonshire Joint Planning Unit. Tim Farr and Cllr Derek Antrobus provided a good understanding on Regional Flood & Coastal Committees.
July 2011 - LGFF held its third meeting at WSP Group Offices in London. The meeting updated members on the implications for Councils of the National Flood & Coastal Erosion Risk Management Strategy with a panel session hosted by WSP, EA, LB Greenwich & Suffolk Coastal District Council. This was further followed up by a presentation from Defra on the Flood funding formula and investment decision-making. In the afternoon presentations from EA, Essex CC and LB Greenwich discussed the Preliminary Flood Risk Assessments. To download presentations from the day's event please click on Resources.
LGFF in partnership with Imperial College London, The Met Office as well as European partners from France, Netherlands and Belgium successfully received funding from an EU-backed Interreg IV B project called RainGain that will be using innovative technology to tackle flood risk in urban areas.
January 2011 -LGFF held its second meeting at WSP Group Offices. The meeting discussed the implications for councils of the National Flood Risk Strategy with presentations from EA and Somerset County Council. Addressing the skills gap and the future funding for flood risk management. Click on resources to download presentations.
September/October 2010 - LGFF will be holding fringe events at each of the party conferences. We look forward to seeing LGFF members at our fringe events. Click on events for further details.
July 2010 - Richard Benyon, Minister responsible for flooding, Anne McIntosh MP, Chair of the Efra Committee and Nick Starling from the Association of British Insurers (ABI) were keynote speakers at the LGFF meeting on 29 July 2010. The Minister was keen to stress the importance of flooding as an area that needed support, though accepted that CSR would have an impact how much funding would be available.
June 2010 - The LGFF will continue its function to give local government a strong voice and a fair deal. The focus for this year (July 2010 - 2011) will be on identifying funding and skills development opportunities and influencing upcoming flood and water management policy.
Nov 2009 LGFF 3rd members meeting – focus on the Flood and Water Management Bill and local flood risk strategy.
Sep/Oct 2009 LGFF fringe at party conferences – The LGFF held three fringe sessions at the Conservative, Labour and Liberal Democrat party conferences with good turnout and lively debate.
Sep 2009 Efra committee report on the Draft Flood and Water Management Bill – The Efra committee report found the Draft Bill a “confusing mix of measures, many of them poorly drafted” and the “approach taken…is over centralising”. It recognised the LGFF’s concern of boundary issues and recommends our idea of flood management boards. It calls for a more comprehensive Bill to be presented in the next Parliament.
July 2009 Submission to the Draft Flood and Water Management Bill – After consultation with LGFF members, a response to the Draft Bill consultation was put together calling on the need for enhanced strategic partnerships, where partners review their arrangements, identify innovative activities and the Lead Local Flood Authority is able to apply to the Secretary of State for additional powers if needed to take things forward.
July 2009 LGFF 2nd members meeting – focus on the LGFF submission to the Draft Bill consultation.