UK weather: Batten down the hatches, Owen Paterson warns, as country faces 'exceptional weather'

Extreme weather set to continue through the weekend

Environment Editor

The extreme weather is set to continue, with driving rain, gale-force winds and high tides forecast to batter the UK on Friday and into the weekend, the Environment Secretary Owen Paterson has warned.

Advising Britons to batten down the hatches, Mr Paterson said the country was facing “exceptional weather”, as the Environment Agency issued 20 severe flood warnings across the south-west coast – the highest-level warning, defined as being so severe that it puts lives at risk.

After a stormy 10-day period in which more than 130,000 homes have already been flooded across the country, the agency had 186 flood warnings in place on Thursday night – where flooding is expected and remediate action recommended immediately. These are mainly in Wales, the South-east, the Midlands and the North-west.

A further 233 “flood alerts”, indicating a possibility of flooding, were also issued.

Government cutbacks will affect the Environment Agency’s ability to cope with flooding in the future its Chief Executive, Paul Leinster has warned. The agency could lose 15 per cent of its workforce because of budget cuts.  “Flood risk maintenance will be impacted,” he said in a recent interview with environmental media outlet The Ends Report.

The threat of floods is so severe that Mr Paterson on Thursday chaired a meeting of Cobra, the committee that brings together ministers, civil servants and others such as the police and Environment Agency at times of danger.

 

“The Environment Agency and local authorities are working hard in areas that could be affected and are  ...ready to take any necessary actions,” Mr Paterson said. “I urge everyone in affected areas to sign up to the Environment Agency flood warnings and follow the advice they issue to protect themselves and their properties”.

Peter Fox, the agency’s head of strategy, said: “We are expecting flooding along the west and south coasts of England and Wales, due to a combination of strong winds, large waves and high tides, from the early hours of Friday and into the weekend.” He added: “Coastal paths and promenades could be highly dangerous as there is an increased risk of being swept out to sea. People are warned to stay away from the shoreline.”

As the prospect of further flooding loomed on Thursday, the search for a man washed out to sea was called off after the discovery of a body on the beach at Porthleven in Cornwall.

A 27-year-old man, from Surrey, disappeared early on New Year’s Day after he was hit by a powerful wave at Loe Bar near Porthleven. Police said formal identification has yet to take place.

Inspector Ian Milligan of Devon and Cornwall Police said: “The male was part of a group on holiday, five of whom went for a night swim. It was only when the other swimmers returned to the beach that they realised their friend was not with them.”

Separately, a woman drowned in the sea near Croyde, north Devon, on Tuesday. It is thought she had been swimming or surfing. The Coastguard is also searching for a man thought to have fallen into the River Stour, in Christchurch, Dorset.

The River Towy burst its banks in Carmarthen in Wales on Thursday morning, flooding a road. And in Liphook, Hampshire, 300 homes lost power after stormy weather brought down lines, although this left the number of houses without electricity well down on a peak of 300,000 over Christmas.

A man was taken to hospital on Tuesday after a tree fell on his car on the A21 in Orpington just after 5pm, and a number of people had to be rescued when a building partly collapsed in Hendon an hour earlier.

Should the heavy rainfall turn to snow storms this winter, MPs have said there should be a publicity campaign telling people that they should not avoid shovelling snow because of legal concerns.

In the past, some have been reluctant to help clear snow because they were afraid that they would be legally liable if anyone then slipped over on the patch they cleared.

The Department of Transport has a snow code that says: “it’s unlikely you’ll be sued or held legally responsible for any injuries if you have cleared the path carefully” because people out walking have a responsibility to tread carefully.

But in a report published today, the Commons all-party Transport Committee says that not enough is done to publicise the code. Launching the report, Louise Ellman, who chairs the Transport Committee, urged: “More should be done to keep pavements clear of ice and snow. A national advertising campaign should highlight that the public can clear snow and ice from outside their homes without fear of legal action and should consider doing so.”

Weather watch: How the forecast is looking

Friday

Further wet and windy conditions likely across the UK. Tides will be very high across the South West. North West England, Wales and South West and Southern England will also experience severe flooding.

Saturday

Less windy across the UK. South-east England and East Anglia will have locally heavy rain while scattered showers will affect western areas. It will be generally fine elsewhere.

Sunday

After some showers in southern Britain, the wind will strengthen again and heavy rain will sweep across the UK. Western areas expected to be the worst hit.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor and Clara have their first real heart to heart since he regenerated in 'Deep Breath'
TV
Arts and Entertainment
James Hewitt has firmly denied being Harry’s father
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Jamie Oliver
filmTV chef Jamie Oliver turned down role in The Hobbit
News
The official police photograph of Dustin Diamond taken after he was arrested in Wisconsin
peopleDownfall of the TV star charged with bar stabbing
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Sport
Ashley Barnes of Burnley scores their second goal
footballMan City vs Burnley match report
News
news
News
Sir James Dyson: 'Students must be inspired to take up the challenge of engineering'
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Man of action: Christian Bale stars in Exodus: Gods and Kings
film
Life and Style
Apple showed no sign of losing its talent for product launches with the new, slightly larger iPhone 6 making headlines
techSecurity breaches and overhyped start-ups dominated a year in which very little changed (save the size of your phone)
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Junior Developer / Mobile Apps / Java / C# / HTML 5 / JS

£17000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Junior Mobile Application Devel...

Recruitment Genius: LGV Driver - Category C or C+E

£23000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This national Company that manu...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Consultant - OTE £30,000

£13000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Scotland's leading life insuran...

Recruitment Genius: Maintenance Assistant

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Maintenance Assistant is requ...

Day In a Page

A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

Who remembers that this week we enter the 150th anniversary year of the end of the American Civil War, asks Robert Fisk
Homeless Veterans appeal: Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served

Homeless Veterans appeal

Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served
Downfall of Dustin 'Screech' Diamond, the 'Saved By The Bell' star charged with bar stabbing

Scarred by the bell

The downfall of the TV star charged with bar stabbing
Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

Security breaches and overhyped start-ups dominated a year in which very little changed (save the size of your phone)
Cuba's golf revolution: But will the revolutionary nation take 'bourgeois' game to its heart?

Will revolutionary Cuba take 'bourgeois' golf to its heart?

Fidel Castro ridiculed the game – but now investment in leisure resort projects is welcome
The Locked Room Mysteries: As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor Otto Penzler explains the rules of engagement

The Locked Room Mysteries

As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor explains the rules of engagement
Amy Adams on playing painter Margaret Keane in Tim Burton's Big Eyes

How I made myself Keane

Amy Adams hadn’t wanted to take the role of artist Margaret Keane, because she’d had enough of playing victims. But then she had a daughter, and saw the painter in a new light
Ed Richards: Parting view of Ofcom chief. . . we hate jokes on the disabled

Parting view of Ofcom chief... we hate jokes on the disabled

Bad language once got TV viewers irate, inciting calls to broadcasting switchboards. But now there is a worse offender, says retiring head of the media watchdog, Ed Richards
A look back at fashion in 2014: Wear in review

Wear in review

A look back at fashion in 2014
Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015. Might just one of them happen?

Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015

Might just one of them happen?
War with Isis: The West needs more than a White Knight

The West needs more than a White Knight

Despite billions spent on weapons, the US has not been able to counter Isis's gruesome tactics, says Patrick Cockburn
Return to Helmand: Private Davey Graham recalls the day he was shot by the Taliban

'The day I was shot by the Taliban'

Private Davey Graham was shot five times during an ambush in 2007 - it was the first, controversial photograph to show the dangers our soldiers faced in Helmand province
Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Many flyers are failing to claim compensation to which they are entitled, a new survey has found
The stories that defined 2014: From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions

The stories that defined 2014

From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations

Disaster looming? Now you know where to head...

Which British city has become the first to be awarded special 'resilience' status by the UN?