result of the floods in June was acknowledged by Elliot Morley,
parliamentary secretary at the ministry of agriculture. He called for
the Environment Agency to provide a report on the floods, their
Mr Morley announced his call for a report alongside publication of
the Environment Agency's report showing that its substantial work
programme to implement its Action Plan following the Easter 1998
floods is almost complete.
In a written answer to a parliamentary question, Mr Morley said:
'The chairman of the Environment Agency has provided me with a report
of progress up to the end of April 2000. I am pleased to note that the major work programme set out in the Action Plan is almost complete.
Key developments since the Agency's last report, which covered the
period to end of December 1999, are as follows;
- Completion of the first phase of the telemetry works resulting in
an additional 109 river level gauges, 16 river flow gauges and 65
rain gauges. These will enable conditions to be monitored during
flooding and the calibration of flood models.
- A concordat between the agency and the Meteorological Office has
been signed to provide a framework for improved liaison and
exchange of data.
- The agency has completed its programme of visual inspections of
its flood defences. Local authorities have inspected between 75%
and 90% of their defences. The remainder are scheduled for
completion by September in line with the ministry's High Level
Targets. Defences belonging to third parties have been inspected
where identified through discussions with local authorities.
- Of the 1.6 million properties within the flood plain, one million
addresses have been identified as high risk. This will enable
flood risk information and other publicity material to be better
targeted within the wider flood plain.
- A letter designed to raise awareness of the flood risk to caravan
sites has been produced and distributed together with a request
for site owners to make visitors aware of such risks and what they
should do in the event of a flood.
- The agency is producing guidelines to enable the severity and
extent of flooding to be calculated on a consistent basis in order
to better inform post event surveys.
Two activities have yet to be fully completed by the agency. These
are the introduction of the new flood warning codes and revised
management structures. The new flood warning codes are scheduled to
be introduced on 12 September 2000. The introduction of the revised
management structures will be phased during April to September 2000
in order to minimise the risk of disruption to services.
The agency's Easter Floods Project Team has now completed its work
and is to be congratulated for its efforts in delivering the Action
Plan and meeting the priorities I set out in striving for a seamless
and integrated service of flood forecasting, warning and response.
The outstanding issues will be taken forward by the agency's National
Flood Warning Centre. Further activity in improving flood defence
will be driven by the High Level Targets that the government set last
As regards the flooding earlier this month, I am acutely aware of the
suffering experienced by many communities in Northern England, and
express the government's sympathy to all those affected. I have asked
the chairman of the Environment Agency to provide a report on the
flooding, by 21 July 2000, to include:
- the impact of the flooding
- the causes of the flooding, including assessment of the
contributory factors suggested by local members of the public
- the effectiveness and timeliness of flood warnings
- to what extent the effects of these floods were mitigated as a
result of the measures taken to implement the Independent Report
of the Easter 1998 floods
- what further lessons can be learned from these floods.'
1. The flooding earlier this month affected a number of areas of
Northern England. Some 900 homes and other properties were
2. The floods in Easter 1998 affected large areas of Central
England and Wales and were the worst experienced for many years.
3. Following the floods the Environment Agency, which is
responsible for flood warning in England and Wales, commissioned
an Independent Review of the floods, under the chairmanship of
Peter Bye. The ensuing report, published in September 1998,
contained recommendations for improving flood forecasting, flood
warning and emergency response arrangements and for changes in the
Agency's management structures and skills base.
4. Following the report, in a Parliamentary Statement on 20 October
1998, Elliot Morley set out the need to achieve a seamless and
integrated service of flood forecasting, warning and response by
April 2000. Mr Morley also set out eight priorities for the agency
to achieve in delivering that overall target.
5. The Environment Agency responded to the ministerial requirement
in its November 1998 Action Plan for implementing the Report's
recommendations. This plan included the ministerial priorities,
and a number of other specific actions, all of which will
contribute to delivering a seamless and integrated service.
6. The Environment Agency chairman, John Harman, has provided
Mr Morley with a progress report on implementation of the Action
Plan, including the ministerial priorities, up to the end of March
7. MAFF provided direct funding of some£3m in 1999-2000
towards the cost of implementing the measures in the Action Plan.
Further contributions to ongoing work will be made in this and