Memorandum submitted by Laurence Robertson
MP (FL MP 08)
Thank you for your letter dated 24th July regarding
your Committee's inquiry into flooding.
I am pleased that your committee is to look
into this matter and I should be pleased to help in any way I
For now, as requested, I enclose some ideas
which my Assistant had compiled. If you need any more help or
clarification please do not hesitate to get in touch.
1. Flood Defence by:
Why not dredge the Rivers, should there be stiff
penalties for non maintenance of ditches, drains and watercourses.
Does EU regulations for farmers and set aside policies make matters
worse, and should farmers in floodplains be exempted? Why are
not drains adopted immediately, and any faults rectified and billed
to developers afterwards.
Why are developers allowed to tap into existing
drains, which are unable to cope with the extra demand.
Is the EA too big to deal with often localised
issues of this nature, do their own policies conflict, ie conservation
and defence. Is the balance of policies correct?
Why flood defences were not kept on site or
close to instead of miles away, and thus prevent installation.
Keeping the Public Informed.
How have the public authorities and media both
local and national coped and kept local people informed. Are flood
warning systems adequate, why telephone messages, why not as in
Did the projected flooding as per EA models
match with the actual? If not why not and what lessons have been
Does top down planning from Government and the
regions ignore the serious issues of floodplains and washland
area, will current proposals in such areas make matters worse?
Is flood alleviation plans the right way to deal with such things?
2. Emergency Response
How did the local authorities cope? Will regional
control authorities make matters worse? How did individual councils
cope with such things as water distribution. How did Parish Councils
cope? What lessons can be learnt, about having very localised
emergency planning as part of a wider county/district framework.
Why was the response of Severn Trent so inadequate at the beginning
when the water went off? Why was the Army only called in after
the situation had become untenable? Have the utility companies
got adequate emergency plans in place, how do they co-ordinate
with the government local and national? Why did they give wrong
information on the website as to Bowser locations, and indeed
give out that bowsers were in place when they were not. Why did
they not give accurate information as to parishes, eg Twigworth
as being city centre when not even in the city? What lessons did
they learn about vulnerable people, health provision etc. In some
cases vulnerable people were unknown and went without for periods
of times. Were plans made to ration water to prevent some from
being greedy, ie emptying bowsers to keep businesses open and
deprive vulnerable people of basic drinking water?
What lessons can be learnt about the fragility
of major infrastructure plant such as water and power, and not
being part of a national network. Did the authorities have plans
in place early enough? Were/are the authorities fully aware of
potential issues and do they have plans in place? Should the national
network for electric/water be able to be "trunked" in
order that if one part goes the system will still supply an area
with minimum disruption? Why did the M5 come to such a halt, and
caused extra problems for the emergency services and therefore
put lives at risk?
Does the Belwin scheme adequately deal with
such emergencies? What support do small businesses get? What about
the uninsured who cannot get reasonably priced insurance because
of where they live? What other packages could and should be put
in place to help an area recover quickly?
Laurence Robertson MP