Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Britain to get £7m flood forecast centre

The Guardian (UK): A flood forecast centre is to be set up as part of the government's response to last summer's devastating floods, the environment secretary Hilary Benn has announced. The £7.7m centre, to be run by the Met Office and Environment Agency, will take responsibility for warning people and businesses, as well as helping emergency services prepare and respond.

Benn also announced councils will be responsible for assessing and managing local flood risk, as part of the government's official response to Sir Michael Pitt's review of the 2007 floods. Benn said: "In a flood, preparation and speed of response are crucial. A joint national flood forecasting and alert service will help by providing timely warnings and ensure we get the right help to the people who need it most in the shortest possible time."

He also announced a £15m fund for local authorities, including money for six high-risk councils to develop surface water management plans. Peter Ainsworth, conservative environment spokesman, accused the government of delaying new legislation and shunting responsibility on to local authorities. Paul Bettison, chairman of the environment board of the Local Government Association (LGA), said: "It is pleasing the government has recognised that extra resources will be needed to help prevent further flooding.

"However, the additional £15m that has been allocated between now and 2011 will not be enough to ensure our villages, towns and cities are properly protected. More than half of all councils have told the LGA that they do not have sufficient resources to deal with flooding, and their budgets are set to come under further pressure in the coming months."...

From the 2007 United Kingdom floods, Tooting, a soggy Broadway. Shot by Kirsteen, Wikimedia Commons via Flickr, under Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 2.0 License

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