X
+44 (0)1743 298 100 info@geosmartinfo.co.uk

Flood zones explained

The Environment Agency (EA) has devised a set of flood zones for guidance by developers, councils and communities to explain the probability of river and sea flooding, ignoring the presence of flood defences.

Flood zones are shown on the EA’s Flood Map for Planning (Rivers and Sea), as indicated below:

Zone 1: Low probability
Land having a less than 1 in 1,000 annual probability of river or sea flooding.
(Shown as ‘clear’ on the Flood Map – all land outside Zones 2 and 3)

Zone 2: Medium probability
Land having between a 1 in 100 and 1 in 1,000 annual probability of river flooding;
or
Land having between a 1 in 200 and 1 in 1,000 annual probability of sea flooding.
(Land shown in light blue on the Flood Map)

Zone 3a: High probability
Land having a 1 in 100 or greater annual probability of river flooding;
or
Land having a 1 in 200 or greater annual probability of sea flooding.
(Land shown in dark blue on the Flood Map)

Zone 3b: The functional floodplain
This zone comprises land where water has to flow or be stored in times of flood.
Local planning authorities should identify in their Strategic Flood Risk Assessments areas of functional floodplain and its boundaries accordingly, in agreement with the Environment Agency.
(Not separately distinguished from Zone 3a on the Flood Map)

Flood zones and climate change allowances

The flood zones do not take account of the possible impacts of climate change and consequent changes in the future probability of flooding. Reference should therefore also be made to the Strategic Flood Risk Assessment when considering location and potential future flood risks to developments and land uses.

The EA made revisions in March 2016 to the peak flow rate of rivers in various catchments across the country based on climate change predictions. This guidance is available here.

This translates to new guidance for councils and developers on the relevant peak rate to use in each Flood Zone:

Flood zone 2

  • essential infrastructure – use the higher central and upper end to assess a range of allowances
  • highly vulnerable – use the higher central and upper end to assess a range of allowances
  • more vulnerable – use the central and higher central to assess a range of allowances
  • less vulnerable – use the central allowance
  • water compatible – use none of the allowances

Flood zone 3a

  • essential infrastructure – use the upper end allowance
  • highly vulnerable – development should not be permitted
  • more vulnerable – use the higher central and upper end to assess a range of allowances
  • less vulnerable – use the central and higher central to assess a range of allowances
  • water compatible – use the central allowance

Flood zone 3b

  • essential infrastructure – use the upper end allowance
  • highly vulnerable – development should not be permitted
  • more vulnerable – development should not be permitted
  • less vulnerable – development should not be permitted
  • water compatible – use the central allowance

If (exceptionally) development is considered appropriate when not in accordance with flood zone vulnerability categories, then it would be appropriate to use the upper end allowance.

For more guidance of the EA Flood Zones and your development project, as well as Flood Risk Assessment and Sustainable Drainage Reports, contact us today.

We’ve collected Strategic Flood Risk Assessments from different local authorities, view the library here.