HL Deb 26 January 2005 vol 668 cc164-5WA
Baroness Byford

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Further to the statement on flooding by the Minister for the Environment and Agri-Environment, Mr Elliott Morley, on 11 January (Official Report, Commons, col. 203), what was the warning system activated and by which agency or department; and why only certain people received the warning. [HL735]

Lord Whitty

The Environment Agency is responsible for flood warning in England and the Government recently approved its £226 million flood warning strategy for the next 10 years.

The agency issued flood warnings in respect of the recent damaging flooding in Carlisle to the emergency services, the local authorities, those members of the public who had opted to receive warnings direct by telephone, and others. In addition, Radio Cumbria broadcast warnings throughout the event and both Cumbria Police and the Environment Agency used vehicles with loud hailers to warn people of the severe risk of flooding.

The agency issues the following levels of warning: severe flood warnings, flood warnings, flood watches and "all clear" notices. All four were issued for Carlisle during this event.

Direct warnings were given to those people who had subscribed to the flood warning service. The Environment Agency is active in encouraging properties and businesses to subscribe to the service, where it is available. The agency does not have the power to include properties without the owner's consent.

The agency is reviewing the flood event in Carlisle. The event was extreme and the weather conditions hostile. Carlisle endured storm force winds that brought down power cables and telephone lines and disrupted most mobile telephone networks. Although the adverse weather was one of the factors, it is too early to say why some people did not receive warnings.