East and Welsh coasts
A major national exercise to test the resilience of the systems in
taking place today.
Exercise Triton will test how the national civil contingencies
systems reacts to an extreme coastal flooding event that would affect
huge stretches of the English and Welsh coastlines.
The imaginary scenario posits a North sea tidal surge which breaches
defences from the Humber estuary southwards. The scenario assumes
huge storms have hit the East coast of the US in the preceding
The low pressure system has then been tracked across the Atlantic
before hitting the UK and Western Europe. Decision-makers will have
to simulate the choices and decisions they would face as the storms
arrived. In this scenario the Thames Barrier will not be breached and
London will not be flooded.
The exercise is 'tabletop' only - there will be no live activity on
Environment minister Elliot Morley said:
'The scenario is an unlikely one but it's important that we test our
'Whilst climate change might make extreme events more likely in the
future, it is important for us to carry out exercises such as Triton
now as such rare events could of course happen at any time, as
happened in 1953.'
'50 years after floods devastated parts of the East Coast, with the
loss of 300 lives in England, our ability to predict flooding and our
coastal defences are hugely improved. In addition, this year the
government is spending around£500m to protect against floods.'
Triton forms part of the wider cross-governmental emergency exercise
programme which is designed to test resilience and preparedness
across a range of disruptive challenges and crises.
John Harman, chairman of the Environment Agency said:
'The Environment Agency maintains and operates 36,000 kilometres of
flood defences in England and Wales. These flood defences are only
part of the picture. We also have the expertise and procedures in
place to ensure that we can react as effectively as possible to a
major flooding incident should the need arise.
'We constantly test and review our flooding procedures. Exercise
Triton will help to make sure that we are ready for the most extreme
The exercise has been scheduled for a year. It has been organised as
part of an ongoing programme requested by Mr Morley following
flooding in Easter 1998.
Senior decision-makers across England and Wales are involved in
the exercise, covering central, regional and local government and the
emergency services. These will include representatives from -
Defra, DoH, DfT, DTI, Home Office, ODPM, Cabinet Office, Welsh
Assembly Government, the Environment Agency, MoD, police, regional
government, county councils, fire brigade and the ambulance service.
The RNLI are also involved.