Headlines: April 17th, 2008

Sir Michael Pitt, the man leading the review into last summer’s floods, will call today for changes so that society takes the risk of flooding and other natural hazards more seriously. Sir Michael’s review is due to be completed in the next few months when he will present a series of recommendations in his final report.

In a keynote speech to the Royal United Services Institute’s Critical National Infrastructure Conference, Sir Michael will tell his audience that the floods were dramatic and unprecedented, affecting thousands of homes and businesses. He will add, “Nearly a year on, thousands of people are still out of their homes, a situation which is worrying and perplexing. A system of public monitoring should be introduced.”

He will suggest that similar events are likely to become more frequent as the climate changes and for that reason the country needs to adapt to the increasing risks more effectively and more quickly. “Direction must come from Government and a new approach is needed for planning and making people aware of the risk of flooding,” Sir Michael will say.

Looking at some of the findings of his review, which was set up to learn lessons from what happened last summer, Sir Michael will say spending on flood defences will need to increase in real terms and critical infrastructure operators and security organisations will have to be more open and share information about the vulnerabilities which exist. He will also point to the need for local authorities to
have the powers to ensure local communities are properly protected, which will include their having more resources but also require organisations to reflect on their internal technical infrastructure.