Surface water management planning: guidance (2013)

Guidance to assist the responsible authorities in preparation of Surface Water Management Plans (SWMPs) to help with the management of surface water flooding. This guidance has now been superseded by the 2018 edition.

5 Setting SMART objectives

SWMPs to address surface water flooding should have a clear statement of the problems to be addressed and the objectives to be achieved.

Objectives are set based on the flooding problem and the impacts of that flooding (this information is provided by the risk assessment outlined in section 4).

5.1 Initial objectives

FRM Strategies will initially set high level objectives for surface water flooding for PVAs, as well as identifying areas for SWM planning priorities and the PVAs that fall within these areas. The high level objectives for surface water flooding will be set around the principles of avoid, protect and prepare (Table 7).

Table 7. Objectives for surface water flooding
Objective Description
Avoid Avoid an increase in surface water flood risk to people, economy and environment.
Protect Reduce overall likelihood of surface water flooding to receptors affected.
Prepare Reduce impact of surface water flooding on receptors affected by being adequately prepared for flooding should it happen.

5.2 SMART Objectives

The SWMP partnerships should then set more detailed objectives. This should be undertaken in two stages. The initial objectives set out in the FRM Strategies should be updated following the flood risk assessment under Section 4. These should then be finalised after measures have been appraised, selected and prioritised for funding and delivery. This should provide more detail on the receptors and the location of receptors for which objectives will be set and ensure the objectives in the SWMP are SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound) in line with wider government policy and the HM Treasury Green Book (2003).

Targets and timetables will only be used within the SMART objectives as far as the data and information underpinning the appraisal allow. Table 8 provides further definition of what is meant by SMART objectives within the context of the FRM process.

Table 8. Definition of SMART Objectives
Specific Objectives will relate to the key flood receptors (e.g. businesses, people) and sources of flooding identified in the baseline appraisal.
Measurable Where data and information allow, targets will be used to inform objectives, expressed in terms of the key flood risk indicators used in the appraisal method. Flood risk indicators can be expressed in annualised terms, or adapted to communicate management of risk at specific return periods.
Attainable Tied to capacity within delivery bodies and level of funding at local and national level
Relevant Aim of reducing overall flood risk. While multiple benefits are a key part of sustainable flood management, these will not form part of the objectives, rather they will be identified and considered through the selection criteria within the appraisal method.
Time-Bound Where appropriate, deadlines will be set for the achievement of objectives. The deadlines will be set according to the FRM planning cycles, i.e. 2021, 2027, 2033 etc.

The following principles should underpin the setting of objectives in SWMPs:

  1. Main impacts and sources of flooding should be referenced
  2. Where appropriate, specific return periods should be used, however, this should not prejudge the outcomes of any cost benefit analysis carried out across multiple return periods. An example of where the use of return periods is appropriate is for "avoid" objectives relating to land use planning, which uses a flood risk standard related to the 1 in 200 year event.
  3. The baseline levels of flood risk should be included within the objectives to allow progress to be tracked.
  4. The objectives should primarily focus on flood risk reduction and should not include other multiple benefits as a primary outcome - these are considered as part of the criteria for selection of the most sustainable measures.
  5. The objectives should be aspirational and not set limits on the degree of flood risk avoidance or reduction that is possible/desirable. This is necessary so as to not prejudge the selection of potential measures or level of funding available.


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