Select Committee on Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Minutes of Evidence

Memorandum submitted by Sir Michael Pitt (FL 58)

  You will be aware from media reports that I have been appointed by the Government as the independent chair leading the review into the severe flooding that occurred this summer. I am conscious that your Committee has invited written memoranda from interested parties and will be taking oral evidence soon so that you can " . . . contribute to the conclusions of the independently-led lessons learned exercise that the Secretary of State announced on 12 July 2007". I thought therefore it might be useful for us to meet and exchange views on how we might best complement each others' activities.

  Enclosed are the full Terms of Reference for the Review. The review is to be carried out by the Cabinet Office with support from the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and the Department for Communities and Local Government. It will examine how to reduce the risk and impact of floods, the emergency response and the transition to recovery. We are seeking views from as many people as possible who were affected or have expertise or views to offer, including residents, elected representatives, the emergency services, businesses, academia, and other organisations. My priority is to identify the things that could be done to make improvements to any aspect of flood risk management as set out in the Terms of Reference.

  My office will make contact with the Clerk to your Committee in the next few days in the hope that we can find a suitable date and time to meet.

Sir Michael Pitt

Independent Chair

August 2007




  The Review should be wide-ranging and consider all available evidence on the flooding that occurred in England during June and July 2007, its impacts and what this means for the future. It should hear from those involved at the local, regional and national level, including the public, their elected representatives, public organisations, businesses, the farming community and professional associations. The Review should focus specifically on issues around:

    (a)  Flood risk management, including the risk posed by surface water flooding and the way in which the public and private sectors might adapt to future risks.

    (b)  The vulnerability of critical infrastructure, including:

    (i)      The ability of critical infrastructure to withstand flooding, and what improvements might be made.

    (ii)      The resilience of dams and associated structures, and what improvements might be made.

    (c)  The emergency response to the flooding, including social and welfare issues.

    (d)  Issues for wider emergency planning arising from the actual or potential loss of essential infrastructure.

    (e)  Issues arising during the transition period from the response to recovery phases.

  The Review should build on previous reviews of the response to serious flooding events, other relevant reports and policy developments including making best use of resources and maximising value for money.

  The Review should not cover longer-term recovery issues which will be the subject of a separate, later, review.


  Specific objectives for the Review are:

    i.  To understand why the flooding was so extensive.

    ii.  To learn lessons on how in future we can best predict, prevent or mitigate the scale and impact of flooding incidents in a potentially changing environment.

    iii.  To look at how best to co-ordinate the response to flooding in future, including the significant social implications for communities.

    iv.  To establish what access to support, equipment, facilities and information is needed by those involved in the response at local, regional and national levels.

    v.  To ensure the public has as much access as possible to information on the risk of flooding to allow them to take appropriate precautions, be adequately informed on developments as an emergency unfolds, and be looked after properly in the immediate aftermath.

    vi.  To establish how the transition from response to recovery is best managed.

    vii.  To identify those aspects of the response that worked well and should be promoted and reinforced.

    viii.  To make recommendations in each of these areas to improve the UK's preparedness for flooding events in the future.

    ix.  To make recommendations, drawing on the experience of the flooding incidents, to improve the UK's broader ability to manage the loss of essential services in any future emergencies.


  The Review will be overseen by an independent chairperson, Sir Michael Pitt.

  The Review team will be led by the Cabinet Office with support from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and the Department for Communities and Local Government, drawing on experts from other bodies as necessary.


  The independent chairperson, Sir Michael Pitt, will report to the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs; the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government; and the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster.

Sir Michael Pitt

Independent Chair

August 2007

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