Flood threat 'ever-increasing'

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The Independent Online

The Government must take urgent action to protect the UK against the "ever-increasing threat" of flooding, the author of the independent review into last summer's devastating floods warned today.

Sir Michael Pitt said research published as part of his Government-commissioned study showed climate change had the potential to cause even more "extreme scenarios" than were previously considered possible.

While it was not clear if the flooding in June and July last year was the direct result of climate change, the UK must prepare for increasing flood risk, his report said.

He called on the Government to take a lead and urgently set out the process and timescale for how it would rapidly improve the UK's resilience to flooding.

Sir Michael also said the number of people still out of their homes was "a matter for concern" and remained "unacceptably high".

Launching his report today, he said: "Research published as part of my report today shows that the risk of flooding continues to escalate, making the events that shattered so many communities last year an ever-increasing threat.

"I urge the Government to show leadership and urgently set out the process and timescale for improving resilience in the UK.

"The recommendations in my report are realistic and affordable and should be made a priority.

"Waiting for another serious event is a dangerous 'strategy of luck'; we must act now to protect our future," he said.

Sir Michael published his report in London today, with 92 recommendations, including calls for the Ministry of Defence to identify a number of trained armed forces personnel to be deployed to advise those working in the response to civil emergencies.

He also said the Met Office should continue to improve its forecasting and prediction abilities, more work needed to be done to protect critical infrastructure such as water treatment and power plants and railways against flooding, and the Government should put in place a "fully funded" capability for flood rescue, with fire and rescue services playing a central role.

All relevant organisations should have a duty to share information with the Environment Agency and local authorities to help manage flood risk, his report recommended.

He also said authorities needed to be "more willing to tell the truth" about the risk of flooding, because a lack of clarity and transparency was putting people's homes and lives in danger.

Last year's floods across Yorkshire and Humberside, the Midlands and the West Country claimed 13 lives, forced thousands from their homes and cost £3 billion in damage.