Floods: Thames Valley

Environment Food and Rural Affairs written question – answered on 29th January 2014.

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Photo of Adam Afriyie Adam Afriyie Chair, Members' Expenses Committee, Chair, Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology, Chair, Members' Expenses Committee

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what reasons the Environment Agency has given for the length of time it took them to warn local councils and residents about potential flooding in the Thames Valley region during the recent severe weather.

Photo of Dan Rogerson Dan Rogerson The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

On 20 December 2013, the Environment Agency advised the Thames Valley and Surrey Local Resilience partners of the potential for flooding. The Environment Agency based this on the weather forecast for that day. The Local Resilience Forum partners include emergency planning staff from local authorities and the emergency services.

The Environment Agency held daily telephone conference calls with both Thames Valley and Surrey Local Resilience partners from 23 December until 14 January. As the flooding escalated in Surrey, the conference calls were replaced with face to face meetings to respond to the event on a tactical level. The Environment Agency sent representatives to these meetings, which were held on a daily basis between 6 January and 12 January.

Between 20 December and 14 January 2014, the Environment Agency issued 55 flood warnings for the River Thames. These warnings went to 25,096 properties registered to receive the flood warning service. The Local Resilience Forum partners (Thames Valley and Surrey) are also registered to receive these warnings.

The Environment Agency endeavours to give a minimum of two hours notice before any property floods. The Environment Agency is currently investigating the notice given for each of the flood warnings issued. This is standard practise following a flood and the Environment Agency will publish the findings in its flood report.

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