Memorandum submitted by Sir Michael Pitt
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
LEARNING FROM THE FLOODING IN ENGLAND DURING
JUNE AND JULY 2007 TO IMPROVE FLOOD RISK MANAGEMENT AND THE RESPONSE
TO FUTURE EMERGENCIES
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,
(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
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
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
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