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Flood Control

Volume 485: debated on Wednesday 10 December 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs which districts have held emergency planning measures and resilience scenarios to prepare for future flooding incidents following the floods of summer 2007. (241088)

In the last survey undertaken by the Government (the National Capability Survey in January 2008) some 70 per cent. of Category 1 responders indicated they had validated their flood response plan through an exercise or during a real event in the last two years. Category 1 responders are those organisations at the core of the response to most emergencies (e.g. emergency services, local authorities, NHS bodies).

More recent information has confirmed that there have been exercises in every Government office region across the country since summer 2007. These range from in-house exercises by individual responder organisations to multi-agency exercises involving a number of Local Resilience Forums across the region. There have also been a number of real flooding events that have triggered the use of local flood emergency plans.

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what steps have been made to improve the resilience of critical infrastructure from flooding since the floods which took place in July 2007. (241291)

In response to Sir Michael Pitt’s interim report, the Government agreed the need to introduce a systematic, co-ordinated, cross-sector campaign to reduce the disruption caused by natural hazards to critical infrastructure and essential services. The Government will now establish a ‘Natural Hazards Team’ charged with co-ordinating efforts to identify and counter the risks to national infrastructure from natural hazards. In the short term, the systematic programme will co-ordinate the early assessment of the vulnerability and risk of flooding in the most critical elements of national infrastructure.

The Department of Energy and Climate Change instigated reviews of the resilience of the electricity, gas and oil sectors to flood risks in 2007 and 2008. In the case of electricity, work is well advanced to identify and develop additional resilience measures on a site specific basis. The oil and gas industries demonstrated a high level of confidence in the inherent resilience of their infrastructure. However, both industries are reviewing the remaining risks to identify precautionary measures. In the telecommunications industry, the distributed network largely provides the necessary service resilience. In the water sector, Ofwat has issued guidance for water companies on flood risk assessment and identification of priority investments in preparation for the 2009 price review.