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Volume 493: debated on Monday 8 June 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change what progress his Department has made in its (a) survey and (b) review of (i) the resilience of and (ii) resilience plans developed by the (A) electricity, (B) gas and (C) oil sector in respect of flooding. (277655)

Taking each sector in turn:

(A) Electricity:

The then Energy Minister initiated an in depth review into the resilience of electricity substations to flood risk shortly after the floods of summer 2007. This review was led by the Electricity Networks Association (ENA) and included representatives from DECC, all electricity network owners, the Environment Agency (EA)/SEPA, the Met Office and Ofgem. The Pitt review team also attended several meetings of the review steering group. As a result of this work we are now at a position where:

The electricity network companies and the environment agency have completed a structured exchange of information that has enabled the companies to identify all the sites at risk to fluvial or tidal flooding.

There have been improvements made in the provision of flood warning information between the EA and the electricity sector. In particular the network owners now receive a daily risk based flood warning bulletin from the EA which is sent by e-mail.

All the electricity distribution companies have submitted investment plans to Ofgem as part of their current five year price reviews which include proposals to improve the flood resilience of major electricity substations.

The Energy Networks Association (ENA) will shortly be issuing an “Engineering Technical Recommendation”, essentially an agreed industry standard, setting out best practice for network owners in managing flood risk at major substations.

Company business continuity plans for flood risk have been significantly improved by the information that has emerged during the ENA led review.

Electricity companies have also undertaken certain strategic investments to improve their resilience to flood risk in the short term. For example the substations in Gloucester that were impacted by the flooding, at Walham and Castlemeads, now have permanent flood defence barriers and a number of companies have purchased relocatable flood defence systems. In addition companies have reviewed the design of large new substations at risk to flooding and have taken steps to raise them above the level of potential flood waters where appropriate.

(B) Gas and (C) Oil.

DECC has also completed a survey of both the gas and oil sectors to establish their awareness of flood risk and identify any significant risks to the continuity of supplies. Although inherently more resilient than the electricity networks, and with little evidence of supply problems due to flooding, a small number of residual risks were identified that could lead to local difficulties in the most severe flooding situations. The management of these risks is being progressed with the companies and their trade associations.