Europe South Asia Asia Pacific Americas Middle East Africa BBC Homepage World Service Education

Front Page



UK Politics







Talking Point
On Air
Low Graphics

Wednesday, November 25, 1998 Published at 16:06 GMT


Watchdog promises faster flood warnings

The worst floods ever in some areas - but warnings could have been better

By Environment Correspondent Alex Kirby

The Environment Agency is stepping up its flood warning system following the disastrous floods last Easter, described in some areas as the worst ever recorded.

Five people died in the floods, which caused havoc in parts of eastern England, the Midlands and Wales.

The agency was widely criticised afterwards, and was judged by an independent review team to have shown "poor overall performance".

The agency's director of operations, Archie Robertson, admitted: "Our actions did not always meet our own standards or satisfy the public and others."

Five MPs called for the resignation of the agency's chairman, Lord de Ramsey.

Other work may suffer

Now the agency has announced a £7m a year action plan designed to speed up flood warning systems.

Lord de Ramsey said the money would have to be found.

If it could not be, he said, then "improvements to flood warning systems will be at the expense of other flood defence work".

The changes to be made under the action plan will include:

  • better flood forecasting based on improved weather information

  • faster mapping of flood risk areas to provide the best assessment by September 1999

  • identifying properties in high-risk areas by their postcodes

  • a review of the present system of "amber" and "red" alert warnings, which many people find hard to understand

  • a clear statement of the responsibilities of all organisations involved in flood emergencies

  • regular testing of emergency procedures.

[ image: Areas at risk of flooding will be identified]
Areas at risk of flooding will be identified
The Environment Agency will also review its management responsibilities and training, so as to ensure consistent flood warning and forecasting across England and Wales.

But Lord de Ramsey said rivers could not be prevented from flooding, and there would always be circumstances in which no advance warning might be possible.

"With winter upon us", he said, "we are stepping up efforts to alert people to the risk of flooding in general.

"We have begun a programme to check the condition of all flood defences around the country, including those which we do not own.

"And we remain as determined as ever to prevent the unwise spread of development in flood risk areas."

Advanced options | Search tips

Back to top | BBC News Home | BBC Homepage | ©

UK Contents

Northern Ireland

Relevant Stories

25 Nov 98†|†UK
Flood report condemns agency

11 Apr 98†|†UK
Body of third flood victim found

Internet Links

The Environment Agency for England and Wales

Middlesex University Flood Hazard Research Centre

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites.

In this section

Next steps for peace

Blairs' surprise over baby

Bowled over by Lord's

Beef row 'compromise' under fire

Hamilton 'would sell mother'

Industry misses new trains target

From Sport
Quins fightback shocks Cardiff

From Business
Vodafone takeover battle heats up

IRA ceasefire challenge rejected

Thousands celebrate Asian culture

From Sport
Christie could get two-year ban

From Entertainment
Colleagues remember Compo

Mother pleads for baby's return

Toys withdrawn in E.coli health scare

From Health
Nurses role set to expand

Israeli PM's plane in accident

More lottery cash for grassroots

Pro-lifers plan shock launch

Double killer gets life

From Health
Cold 'cure' comes one step closer

From UK Politics
Straw on trial over jury reform

Tatchell calls for rights probe into Mugabe

Ex-spy stays out in the cold

From UK Politics
Blair warns Livingstone

From Health
Smear equipment `misses cancers'

From Entertainment
Boyzone star gets in Christmas spirit

Fake bubbly warning

Murder jury hears dead girl's diary

From UK Politics
Germ warfare fiasco revealed

Blair babe triggers tabloid frenzy

Tourists shot by mistake

A new look for News Online