Making the closing speech at the Emergency Planning Society Conference at the Cardiff International Arena, the minister outlined the Welsh Assembly government's commitment to playing a central role in developing integrated emergency planning in Wales.
'Work on the Civil Contingencies Bill is vital. The Cabinet Office bill team has worked to deliver a draft bill that provides a solid legislative foundation to take emergency planning into the 21st Century. It is legislation that encompasses all that is required by emergency planners to address the risks and challenges that now exist.
'I urge you to take this opportunity and help the bill team take this work further. Your comments and contributions on the draft bill are an integral part of the process. The local response capability contained in the bill provides a clear focus on the areas which must be delivered to provide robust civil protection arrangements such as risk management, emergency planning, business continuity and warning and informing the public.'
The minister added: 'In developing a national programme to strengthen our capability to respond to emergencies, we must recognise the need to exercise and test our plans to reassure ourselves and the public that they actually work. All scenarios need to be tested and exercised so that plans are validated and personnel trained in their specific functions.
'The assembly is firmly committed to support the work of emergency planning across Wales. It will continue to play a central role in planning, response and consequence management and will cont inue to be involved at the UK basis to act as a link between the UK government and agencies on the ground in Wales.'