Previously, people have needed to opt in for the agency’s free flood warning service but now those responsible for some 500,000 properties will automatically receive the updates unless they choose to opt out from the service.

The move is part of the agency’s wider effort to improve access to up to date flooding information.

It has also brought together flood advice from a several sources.

Previously, the EA’s Floodline would provide information on river and coastal flooding while local authorities would focus on surface water and drainage flooding.

The Floodline number, 0845 9881188, will now offer both.

This new service allows each and every local authority a way of providing locally updated information via a recognised and proven 24/7 service.

Local authorities can pay a small annual service charge to join the Extended Floodline Service.

They will then provide Floodline with answers to a range of frequently asked questions about local flood risk issues, including flooding from surface water and drainage.

A local authority can also help callers to Floodline get further specific local advice by using the option for call transfer directly to the relevant local authority.

Craig Woolhouse, head of flood incident management at the Environment Agency said: “This new and improved Floodline service means homeowners and businesses only need to call one number to gain important initial advice on all types of flooding.

“The service has been developed with the help of local authority partners. Its success will depend on how many local authorities choose to join it. ”

The integrated phone service has been set up in response to Sir Michael Pitt’s review into the summer 2007 floods which recommended the introduction of better public notification services during and after flooding.

Sam Bond

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