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.

News
Jacqueline Bisset has claimed that young women today are obsessed with being 'hot', rather than 'charming', 'romantic' or 'beautiful'
people
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Dunham
booksLena Dunham's memoirs - written at the age of 28 - are honest to the point of making you squirm
Arts and Entertainment
A bit rich: Maggie Smith in Downton Abbey
tvDownton Abbey review: It's six months since we last caught up with the Crawley clan
Sport
Frank Lampard and his non-celebration
premier leagueManchester City vs Chelsea match report from the Etihad Stadium
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
News
people
Life and Style
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
techNew app offers 'PG alternative' to dating services like Tinder
Sport
Greg Dyke insists he will not resign as Football Association chairman after receiving a watch worth more than £16,000 but has called for an end to the culture of gifts being given to football officials
football
Arts and Entertainment
Jake Quickenden sings his heart out in his second audition
tvX Factor: How did the Jakes - and Charlie Martinez - fare?
Sport
premier league
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvOnly remaining original cast-member to leave crime series
Sport
Mario Balotelli celebrates his first Liverpool goal
premier leagueLiverpool striker expressed his opinion about the 5-3 thriller with Leicester - then this happened
News
Britain's shadow chancellor Ed Balls (L) challenges reporter Rob Merrick for the ball during the Labour Party versus the media soccer match,
peopleReporter left bleeding after tackle from shadow Chancellor in annual political football match
Arts and Entertainment
Female fans want more explicit male sex in Game of Thrones, George R R Martin says
tvSpoiler warning: Star of George RR Martin's hit series says viewers have 'not seen the last' of him/her
News
i100
News
i100
Sport
Plenty to ponder: Amir Khan has had repeated problems with US immigration because of his Muslim faith and now American television may shun him
boxing
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

Drama Teacher - Hull and Grimsby

Negotiable: Randstad Education Hull: The JobRandstad are currently in need of ...

Reception Teacher

£90 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Hull: Randstad Education is the UK mark...

SEN Teaching Assistant

£50 per day: Randstad Education Cheshire: SEN Teaching Assistant We are curr...

Head of Marketing and Communications - London - up to £80,000

£70000 - £80000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Group Head of Marketing and Communic...

Day In a Page

A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments