Welcome to sthelens.gov.uk

Best place to find information and services that your council provides...

Our Responsibilities

In his Review of the summer 2007 flooding, Sir Michael Pitt stated that; the role of Local Authorities should be enhanced so that they take on responsibility for leading the coordination of flood risk management in their areas. Many actions arising out of the Pitt Review have been transposed into Law in the Floods and Water Management Act 2010 (FWMA). As a result St Helens Council has been made a Lead Local Flood Authority (LLFA).

We are responsible for three types of flooding:

  • Groundwater flooding, caused when heavy or prolonged rainfall makes the groundwater table rise above its normal level;
  • Surface water (rainfall) runoff, which flows from, or over, surfaces such as roads, roofs and patios that cannot easily absorb water;
  • Ordinary watercourses which cannot contain large volumes of surface water runoff during or after heavy rain.

The responsibilities of a lead local flood authority include the following:

  • Investigate and publish reports on significant floods in St Helens;
  • Recording flood assets and identifying those responsible for maintaining them, as well as designating any features which have a significant impact on flood risk so they cannot be removed or replaced without consent;
  • Working with organisations such as the Environment Agency and water companies to develop a local flood risk management strategy for managing surface runoff, groundwater and ordinary watercourses;
  • Once the concept of SuDS is introduced ensuring that developments drain in a manner which does not increase flood risk elsewhere, as well as trying to reduce the risk of flooding wherever possible;
  • The power to request information regarding flooding from any organisation or person;
  • The power to commission works to prevent surface water runoff and groundwater flooding consenting changes to ordinary watercourses.

St Helens Council Sandbag Policy

The Council recognises that the primary responsibility for protecting property from the risk of flooding rests with the property owner. It is also aware of the considerable efforts put in by the Environment Agency to notify property owners in flood risk areas of the risks they face and encourage them to plan their own arrangements to protect themselves and their properties. The Council supports this approach and urges those living within areas identified as being at risk from flooding to follow the advice of the Environment Agency. However, as a responsible authority, the Council recognises that the level of individual capability and preparedness will vary enormously and it is prudent to plan for some additional support to the local community.

In the event of deteriorating weather leading to the issuing of severe weather warning alerts that could potentially affect any part of the Borough, officers from Environmental Protection will monitor the threat. Risk assessments will be undertaken and regularly updated. These assessments could be area wide or site-specific. They could include information obtained from site visits by Council Officers or other partners. In the event of the Council's risk assessment for a defined area identifying the use of sandbags to be appropriate to minimise or mitigate the risk of flooding to residential, utility or commercial properties, the Council may make them available.

The allocation of sandbags to individuals will depend upon a number of factors including the total number of sandbags available, an assessment of the viability of protecting the particular property with sandbags and demands from other emergency flood defence measures involving the use of sandbags that would protect a greater number of properties. The need to protect infrastructure assets e.g. roads, energy distribution sites, communication network sites, hospitals and the Council's own public buildings etc are also likely to make demands on the Council's limited resources.

Occupants of properties where protection from the risk of flooding using sandbags is assessed as viable but lack the physical ability to do so (e.g. elderly or infirm) may, subject to availability of manpower and the assessed priorities at the time, be provided with assistance from the Council. Road closures and disruption to the road network can impact on the Council`s ability to distribute sand bags. Flash flooding can occur in an unpredictable manner and receeds quickly. In these circumstances it may be impossible to respond in the time frame of the event.

  • The provision of sandbags and assistance by the Council under this policy will be without prejudice and free of charge.
  • It must be emphasised that residents who live in identified flood risk areas should not rely upon the Council to respond to a threat of flooding to their property but should have in place their own flood protection plan.
  • Everyone at risk from flooding should consult the leaflet “Prepare Your Property from Flooding; A Guide to householders and Small Businesses”, published by the Environment Agency.