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PROGRESS ON IMPLEMENTING EASTER FLOODS REPORT ANNOUNCED

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The Environment Agency continues to make good progress in ...
The Environment Agency continues to make good progress in

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:

'The chairman of the agency has provided me with a report of progress

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

awareness.

'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

future progress.'

Notes

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

timescale set.

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

from:

Ms Emer O'Connell

Head of Media

The Environment Agency

Head Office

25th Floor

Millbank Tower

21-24 Millbank

London SW1P 4XL

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