Pitt: summer floods were wake-up call

Government, the Environment Agency, local authorities and even the public must be better prepared for floods, an independent review into the summer's deluge has concluded.

An interim report on the review published on Monday, Sir Michael Pitt, the health authority chairman appointed to lead the examination, described the events of June and July as a “wake-up call” for the country.

He made 15 urgent recommendations to avoid future devastation, and 72 interim conclusions which will be lead to another series of recommendations when his final report is published in the summer.

Sir Michael said Government must take the lead in adapting to floods and should develop a national emergency plan, and called for stronger leadership and forward planning by local authorities.

He also echoed the Environment Agency’s recommendation that the body should develop a strategic plan to deal with surface water – the cause of most of the flooding.

Members of the public were also urged to take responsibility for preparing a flood kit, being adequately insured and taking practical steps such as storing important documentation on an upper floor of their property.

Sir Michael said: “Despite the impressive efforts of emergency responders, much work needs to be done to avoid emergencies of the scale we witnessed this summer happening again.

“The country was fortunate that the impact was not much more severe.”

Environment secretary Hilary Benn welcomed the interim report and said the Government was already working on a number of its recommendations, including planning for surface water flooding.

The Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management (CIWEM) also backed the review’s recommendations as a “useful first step” but said they must be put into practice.

CIWEM executive director Nick Reeves said: “We must take the opportunity to reduce flood risk where possible. Although much government policy aspires to this, there is still room for improvement.”

A consultation on the interim measures will be carried out between January and March before Sir Michael’s final report is prepared.

Kate Martin

Action inspires action. Stay ahead of the curve with sustainability and energy newsletters from edie