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Preliminary Flood Risk Assessment for Essex
Essex County Council has prepared a Preliminary Flood Risk Assessment (PFRA), as required of all upper tier local authorities in England by the Flood Risk Regulations (2009). We have done this according to the guidance and information provided by DEFRA but wishes it to be considered with the following caveat:
 
This PFRA has been produced in accordance with current national guidance. However, in the case of the indicative flood risk areas Essex County Council does not fully endorse the methodology by which they were identified and they should not be used on an individual household basis to measure flood risk. 
 
Further work will better inform flood risk at this level but until that time the findings should not be used for insurance or other valuation purposes.  

The Preliminary Flood Risk Assessment

The PFRA is a county-wide analysis which considers past and possible future flooding from the following local flood sources:
 
  • surface water runoff
  • groundwater
  • ordinary watercourses
  • flooding from canals and small impounded reservoirs
 
It considers the consequences these forms of flood risk might have on people, properties and the environment, including cultural heritage and ecology.
 
It does not consider flooding from the sea, main rivers and reservoirs. For information about flooding from the sea, please refer to the South Suffolk and Essex Shoreline Management Plan.
 
For information about flooding from main rivers, residents should refer to the relevant Catchment Flood Management Plan (CFMP):

Flood Risk Areas in Essex 

A Flood Risk Area in England is defined as exceeding a significant threshold of 30,000 people at risk from flooding. Ten Flood Risk Areas have been identified in England covering approximately a third of properties at risk of surface water flooding. Essex has one area which includes parts of Basildon, Castle Point, Rochford and Southend-on-Sea.
 
The Flood Risk Areas are chosen on a methodology which looks at extreme one-in-200-year rainfall events and then identifies the largest number of people that could be affected. Consequently, they are based more on the size of settlement then the probability of an area flooding.

What it means to be in a Flood Risk Area

Being in a Flood Risk Area should not affect individual householders and not all properties in a Flood Risk Area will be at risk of flooding. The PFRA is a high-level screening exercise based on existing information to identify areas at a significant risk of flooding.
 
They have been identified to focus our efforts on where we need to better understand the risk of flooding so we can map and plan to manage it and to do so consistently across England and Wales.
 
Further work is underway, including a Surface Water Management Plan, flood hazard and risk maps (scheduled for 2013) and flood risk management plans (in 2015). These should mean the risk becomes better understood and managed but the current findings are at too high a level to be used on an individual household basis to measure flood risk and should not be used for insurance or other valuation purposes.

Living outside a Flood Risk Area

The determination of Flood Risk Areas is not intended to identity all local flood risks but to identify some of the largest settlements which have local flood risk. Whether you are in a Flood Risk Area or not is indicative more of the size of the settlement rather than the risk to any particular household. It is also important to remember that Flood Risk Areas only cover local sources of flood risk and not risks of flooding from rivers, the sea and reservoirs.
 
The Flood Risk Area is one of many considerations that Essex County Council and the other Flood Risk Management Authorities in the county will use to prioritise resources.

Impact of the PFRA on insurance

The insurance industry will have access to the flood risk information produced as part of the PFRA, as will all members of the public, subject to certain restrictions. Insurers already have access to historic claims, models and commercial products similar to the Environment Agency's national surface water maps that show surface water flood risk information. They use their information to make decisions on risk in order to set premiums and excesses using a range of information.
 
The information in the PFRA is not suitable to assess risk to individual properties in all parts of the county in detail as we cannot know all details about all properties, such as how high the floor level is above ground level and how water might get into houses through doors, windows and airbricks. Insurers can therefore only use the information as a first stage in assessing the flood risk for a general location.
 
The costs of flood insurance can vary according to the level of flood risk, market strategy by individual insurers and other factors, such as crime.
 
For more information about flood risk and insurance, visit the Environment Agency website.

Preliminary Flood Risk Assessment documents

These PFRA documents are not intended to be used to identify individual properties that may be at risk of flooding or provide details of where and when flood risk management works will be undertaken.
Local knowledge of past flooding is an important source of information which can tell us more about how accurate the flood mapping we hold is. If you don't agree with the mapping or have information about past flooding in the area, please email flood.prevention@essex.gov.uk

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