Following a review of the problems caused as a result of Storm Desmond late in 2015, over 1,000 army troops have been put on 24-hour standby to come to people’s aid if severe flooding hits the UK once again this winter.
Late last year, floods caused blackouts and drove people from their homes across parts of England and Scotland, with north-west England especially affected by Storm Desmond which saw record-breaking amounts of rain hit Cumbria, the BBC reports.
The army will now be on standby throughout the winter and can be deployed anywhere in the country as and when required. Ben Gummer, Cabinet Office minister, was quoted by the news source as saying: “We want to make sure that people across the United Kingdom keep safe, warm and healthy this winter. That is why we are working together to prepare for all that winter may bring, from providing flu vaccinations to specialist equipment and resources to deal with winter flooding. With the army standing by, we have the most comprehensive winter plan yet to keep people safe and the country moving.”
Not only have troops been made available but the government also recently announced that £12.5 million would be invested in temporary flood defences as part of its winter plan. This will see the likes of high volume pumps and mobile barriers installed in various locations around the country. What’s more, 1.7 million tonnes of salt have been stockpiled by Highways England and local authorities across the UK to help handle what the winter decides to throw at us.
Where flooding is concerned, a new Property Flood Resilience Action Plan was launched by Dr Peter Bonfield at the end of last month (October), exploring the role that building regulations and certification can play in encouraging the use of flood-resistance construction methods, as well as how independent standards can boost confidence in flood products across the industry.
An advice web portal has been set up, targeted at business owners, homeowners and third parties like insurers, to help people take precautionary actions to protect properties more effectively, as well as what to do if a building is in immediate danger from flooding.
Thérèse Coffee, floods minister, said that the £2.5 billion investment made by government will help to protect 300,000 properties more effectively come the year 2021. And Dr Bonfield added: “The Action Plan will help to give people and businesses the means to reduce the chances of their lives and livelihoods being disrupted by flooding. This is about both stopping the floodwaters getting in, and speeding recovery when it does.”
However, MPs have called for a major reform of the flood risk management system in the UK this month (November 2nd), with a Commons environment and rural affairs committee report saying there should be new flooding and coastal boards, a rivers and coastal authority and a UK floods supremo.
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