25 June 2014
10.30 am
Dundonald House – Room 229
Group members:
Gerry Lavery (GL)
Catherine McCallum (CMcC)
David Porter (DP)
Jonathan McKee (JMcK)
Alan Reddick (AR)
Robert Crawford (RC)
Paul Duffy (PD)
Michael Francey (MF)
John Irvine (JI)
Keith Jagelman (KJ)
Martin McIlwaine (MM)
Gabriel Nelson (GN)
Trevor Steenson (TS)
DARD (Chair)
DARD Rivers Agency
DARD Rivers Agency
DARD Rivers Agency
DARD Rivers Agency
DRD Water Policy Division
DOE Planning
DOE Planning Policy
DRD Transport NI (Roads)
NI Water
LPS Mapping
In attendance:
Henry Thompson (HT)
DARD Rivers Agency
GL welcomed two new members to the Steering Group and initiated
round table introductions. The two new members are Jonathan McKee
who recently replaced David Porter as Rivers Agency’s Director of
Development and Alan Reddick who replaced Joe Nicholson as Rivers
Agency’s Head of Strategic Planning Unit.
TS advised GL that this meeting would be his last as he was moving on
to a new post.
Minutes of Previous Meeting
Agreed and matters outstanding reflected in the Agenda
Statement of Principles (Flood Re) Update
DP reported the progress that had been made by government and the
flood insurance industry in relation to the replacement for the Statement
of Principles. It has been agreed by the two parties that Flood Re (as
opposed to the imposition of regulation of flood insurance industry) was
the way forward. The necessary legislation to facilitate the proposed
Flood Re scheme has been introduced through the Water Bill, which
received Royal Assent on 14 May and is now law.
Within GB the thresholds for flood insurance obtained through the Flood
Re Scheme would be determined by the property Council Tax Bands
(CTB). As CTB do not exist in NI, DP outlined the approach that would
be used to in NI to classify properties in categories1 to 8 (equivalent to
the GB bands A to H). The approach, which uses the LPS domestic
capital valuations, is fully described in the paper provided to members.
The DARD minister has indicated that she is content with the proposed
DP advised members that, similar to GB, a relatively small proportion of
the total at risk residential properties in NI would not be eligible for
insurance through Flood Re scheme. The ineligible properties include
the most valuable properties (those in Category 8), those constructed
after 2009 and the genuinely uninsurable properties which flood on a
very frequent basis.
Discussions on the proposed scheme clarified a number of issues
including that:
Government may have to underwrite some of the damages in a
very extreme flood event that could not be covered by the pooled
contributions and that this could lead to an increase in the ‘levy’
on all policies.
Defra was satisfied to use NI’s 2005 property valuations as the
basis for setting thresholds.
There will be no change to the LPS revaluation arrangements,
and these will continue to be done within the tens of years
timeframe as usual.
Members confirmed that they were content with the general
Flood Re arrangements and the specific approach for
establishing the premium thresholds within NI.
Update on DRD’s Long Term Water Strategy (LTWS)
RC reported that DRD had launched the public consultation on the draft
LTWS (details of the web-link to the consultation document was
provided in members packs). He encouraged all members to ensure
that their respective organisations considered and responded to the
consultation by 10 October 2014 and advised that it was planned to
publish the final LTWS in 2015 following consideration of the responses
and Executive approval.
RC drew attention to the fact that one of the four strategic aims of the
LTWS was to manage flood risk and drainage in a sustainable manner
and that this had been supported by the DRD Committee.
RC thanked NIEA, NI Water and Rivers Agency for their input to the
strategy. DP stated that the inclusion of a substantial policy framework
within the LTWS in regard to flood risk management was very welcome
and that this would be reflected in the Flood Risk Management Plans to
be published later in the year. GN acknowledged the hard work of DRD
in completing such a major body of work.
TS advised the meeting that LPS was intending to update its mapping
and that this could provide an opportunity to better reflect the
sewer/drainage networks and asked who LPS should contact to discuss
this in more detail. RC volunteered that LPS could contact him in the
first instance. MM stated that NI Water had done much to improve the
accuracy of the asset information that it held. However, he warned that
NI Water had recently shared their network information with Rivers
Agency and that in doing this, it had become obvious that there are a
very substantial number of culverted systems throughout the province
that weren’t designated or adopted by either of the organisations.
Homeowner Flood Protection Grant Scheme
JMcK reported that since the Nov 2013 meeting (at which the SG
endorsed a draft business case for the proposed grant scheme) the
Business Case has undergone scrutiny by DARD Resource Economics
Branch (REB). REB issued the Agency with a ‘Conditional Sign-off’
letter on 15 May to indicate that, subject to a few minor changes, it was
content that the appraisal met the standard required for a proposed
project of this nature. The minor changes, required to satisfy RED,
have now been completed. JMcK reminded the group of the novel
nature of the business case, i.e. that it has been prepared by RA on
behalf of the cross-departmental Steering Group, that the preferred
option for administering the grant scheme is through Local Government
(which hasn’t declared that it is willing to accept the role) and that
DARD, Rivers Agency is bidding for the funding for the scheme on the
basis that the funding will follow the scheme to the administering
authority (if approved).
KJ said that securing Local Government agreement to accept this new
role may prove complex at this time given the forthcoming RPA
changes. DP said that concerns over the administration of the scheme
had been raised by council representatives at the Local Flood Forums,
but that the mechanisms for delivery had been developed to make this
as easy for councils to deliver as possible. DP emphasised that Rivers
Agency could not take the scheme forward because its statutory
responsibility extended only to the management of flood risk from rivers
and the sea and that in many cases homes were at risk from surface
water flooding.
JMcK indicated that Rivers Agency was preparing a paper to brief Local
Government on the proposed scheme and would be meeting with
officials at the earliest opportunity to gauge their response. He
undertook to report progress at the next Steering Group meeting.
RC asked if NI Housing Executive was aware of the proposed grant
scheme. HT said that NIHE representatives attended the Local Flood
Forums and been briefed about the scheme in detail. Although NIHE
tenants could not apply for grant assistance, the NIHE had shown great
interest in property-level flood protection and had sought technical
information from Rivers Agency.
AR advised that he would be attending a meeting with Defra and
insurance industry representatives tomorrow to discuss how propertylevel flood protection will be taken into account when setting flood
insurance premiums. AR will report matters of interest at the next
MM stated that in the case of sewer flooding, the Utility Regulator’s
current position is that properties cannot be removed from the DG5 atrisk register even if they benefit from a package of property-level flood
resistance measures.
The discussions concluded with the group agreeing that Rivers Agency
should progress the Business Case to DFP for approval.
Flood Maps (NI) – Presentation by DP
DP gave a ‘live’ presentation of Flood Maps (NI) which had been
launched by the DARD Minister last month. At the outset of the
presentation DP emphasised to the Group that although the web-based
interactive map service was produced by Rivers Agency to fulfil NI’s
obligations under the Floods Directive, the maps are Government’s
maps (not Rivers Agency’s), and should be used by all departments in
carrying out their business.
DP said that there was commercial interest in the new flood maps and
that Rivers Agency was working with LPS to license the product for
JI asked if the new flood maps were currently hosted within Spatial NI.
TS said that although the Flood Maps weren’t hosted within Spatial NI
the two systems did ‘talk’ to each other with the underlying topographic
mapping in the Flood Mapping system coming from Spatial NI and the
Spatial NI CCG(NI) emergency viewer being able to display the flood
maps if required. TS said that this arrangement provided the greatest
level of resilience across the two systems.
PD stated that Planning Service had obtained the new ‘detailed’ flood
outlines from Rivers Agency and was working with its Mapping and
Modelling Unit to integrate these within their map services.
Belfast Flood Risk - York Street Interchange
DP gave a presentation to describe the design measures that are
proposed by Roads NI to protect the York Street Interchange from a 1
in 200 year tidal event. The presentation also included flood modelling
scenarios that show how various defence lines could be integrated with
the new road infrastructure to protect Belfast from tidal inundation. DP
advised that following a recent walkover survey of the Harbour Area by
Rivers Agency staff, it appeared that there may a viable flood defence
solution for Belfast and that Rivers Agency would be undertaking a
flood study that will examine all potential options.
Local Flood Forums
Referring to the paper in the member packs, AR gave a brief update on
the work of the three Local Flood Forums that had been held in
February 2014. An issue of note arising from the Forums was that
there was widespread agreement that the gathering of data on actual
flood events that is currently collected by a number of authorities is
disparate and ineffectual and as a consequence, it was almost
impossible to identify areas at significant risk due to surface water
flooding. All of the Forum representatives that attended on behalf of
Rivers Agency, NI Water, Roads and DRD Water Policy Unit agreed
that a more coordinated approach to the recording of information on
actual floods is required. It was agreed that Rivers Agency would
prepare a paper outlining the key issues in regard to data gathering and
management for the next Steering Group meeting.
AR stated that it was planned to hold the next round of Local Flood
Forum meetings in late November.
Any Other Business
TS informed the group that there was a possibility that EU member
states may be moving to adopt unified European Vertical Reference
System (EVRS). He advised that the change could present some
difficulty in relation to flood mapping, particularly in connection with
coastal flooding. It was agreed that if LPS established a working group
on the implementation of the EVRS, Rivers Agency would appoint a
representative to the group.
MF advised the group that the revised PPS15 was currently circulating
Executive Ministers for comment, with a view to publication.
DP indicated that Daniel Johns (Defra) would be prepared to make
himself available to give a presentation to an appropriate audience on
Flood Re. Rivers Agency is to consider if a collective meeting of the
three local Flood Forums could be organised as this would be of
particular interest to the stakeholders which attend these meetings.
Before closing the meeting, GL thanked TS for his participation in the
Steering Group and wished him well in his new position. He also
thanked DP, not only for his significant contribution to the Steering
Group meetings over the past three years, but also for the key role that
he has played in directing and progressing the implementation of the
Directive to date.
Next Meeting
It is intended that the next meeting should be in 6 months’ time. One of
the main items for discussion will be progress on the Draft Flood Risk
Management Plans, with a view to proceeding to Public Consultation
early in 2015.