implementing its Action Plan following the floods last Easter, Elliot
Morley, parliamentary secretary at the Ministry of Agriculture said.
In a written answer to a parliamentary question yesterday, Mr Morley said:
up to the end of June 1999.
'I am pleased to note that the agency remains on course for
completing the substantial work programme set out in the Action Plan.
In line with the priorities that I set out last October, the agency
has received an independent report on its management structures and
skills base and the recommendations will be implemented by next
April. An elaboration of the Environment Agency's flood defence
supervisory duty was published in May, along with interim high level
targets for the agency and other flood and coastal defence operating
authorities. The agency is now working with others to ensure that
flood and coastal defences are identified and inspected; the results
recorded and assessed; and appropriate action to remedy defects put
in hand. Consultation on further development of high level targets
and the supervisory duty is in hand.
'The agency has reported that indicative maps of floodplains have
been produced ahead of the September target, and are currently being
distributed to local authorities for use in both development control
and emergency planning. These maps are being used to review the
Agency's database of properties at risk of flooding. Further work has
been done on flood warning, with an extension to the number of
properties now able to receive direct Automatic Voice Messages
through the telephone system. Flood warning messages have been
reviewed and a new system to replace the present colour coded
warnings is planned from September 2000. The agency is embarking on a
significant programme of work, both internally and with partners such
as local authorities and the emergency services, to ensure that the
necessary preparations are made. I have agreed with the agency that
it is important to ensure that these arrangements are introduced
successfully and are coupled with a campaign to increase public
'The programme of improvements to the agency's telemetry network is
starting following MAFF agreement to grant aid work in England. The
National Assembly for Wales are separately considering the telemetry
programme in Wales.
'The agency continues to make good progress in implementing the
Easter Floods Report and I will ensure that the house is updated on
1. The floods in Easter 1998 affected large areas of Central England
and Wales and were the worst experienced for many years.
2. Following the floods the Environment Agency, which is responsible
for flood warning in England and Wales, commissioned and
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.
3. 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.
4. 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.
5. The Environment Agency chairman, Lord De Ramsey, has provided Mr
Morley with a progress report on implementation of the Action
Plan, including the ministerial priorities, up to the end of June.
The agency has completed the actions scheduled for the end of
June, and is on course to achieve other targets within the
6. MAFF is providing direct funding of some£3m towards the
cost of implementing the measures in the Action Plan.
7. Copies of the Environment Agency's progress report are available
Ms Emer O'Connell
Head of Media
The Environment Agency
London SW1P 4XL